Following the sudden closure of college campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SIS graduates have been obliged to relocate to a wide variety of living situations. After the continuous rise of COVID-19 patients, universities like Michigan State publicly announced at the end of June and the beginning of August concerning their decision to not reopen campus for the fall semester of 2020. Not only is the COVID-19 virus engendering drastic reformations both in and out of college campuses, but they are also influencing how SIS graduates are “starting” their lives after highschool.
“I personally enjoy some online classes as I can take them at my pace,” said Andrew Rhee, a graduate from SIS as the Class of 2017, who is currently taking Zoom classes at the University of Southern California (USC). “However, online classes do only the bare minimum to simulate university lectures, and other than that freshmen are missing out on more or less every other aspect of the college experience. After reading through our school’s online forum, there seems to be a lot of freshmen struggling to make new friends. They can’t meet new people in their dorms or probably even their classes due to the nature of virtual classes. I don’t think high school graduates will feel like they started a new life at all. This is just a transition period before they actually get into college.”
Many undergraduate students have decided to take a gap year in fear of the pandemic. As a result, there has been an increase in universities that provide options for students to take gap years. Specifically, universities like Yale, College of William and Mary, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) support undergraduates’ taking gap years as they claim that gap years provide an opportunity towards supplementing students’ educational experience. In addition, marketing firm and educational research institution SimpsonScarborough surveyed 1,100 current high school seniors and college students in America. According to SimpsonScarborough’s results, there was an approximate 9% increase in high school seniors taking gap years before the start of the fall semester in college.
“I do have friends who decided to take a gap year before the start of their senior year in college,” remarked Avery Kang, a SIS graduate with the class of 2017 and a current senior at Parsons School of Design. “They told me that they felt like, with the pandemic, it feels like the “right time” to slow down and think about what they actually want to do with their lives after college. Although I did consider this option, I decided to continue college this year because I want to finish college, get my diploma, and explore my options for future opportunities.”
Undergraduates in college have also been forced to take classes through virtual meetings. Whether that is through Zoom classes or Google Meets, colleges such as
Harvard University announced their virtual program at the beginning of fall semester with 40% of its 6,800 undergraduate class available on campus. Other universities such as Princeton, University of Southern California (USC), Northwestern, and Vanderbilt have also instituted a system that enables college classes to be conducted virtually. In all, the majority of universities have switched to online classes that pose as a drastic alteration for the undergraduates from SIS.
“Zoom classes have crept into my life after the spreading of COVID-19,” remarked Annette Kang, a graduate of SIS as the Class of 2015. “Because of regulations, I take classes, internships, jobs, and workouts online. Thankfully, Zoom meetings are a way to communicate with my friends, which help me stay on top of my work. I do miss interacting with my friends face-to-face, but we all should be thankful for the fact that we are able to go on with our everyday tasks virtually, even in situations like this.”