For many of the seniors at Ferris, the college experience has forever been changed by the onset of the pandemic. More than half the time we have spent here has been lived under the shadow of it, and we’ve lost entire semesters and years of socializing, meeting people and doing extracurricular activities as a result. While the physical toll and suffering caused by COVID-19 was undoubtedly a much greater problem and worthy of this sacrifice, it has still created a mental toll on the people who attended college within the last three years.
Speaking from my own experience, losing out on in-person meetings and not being able to see people as a result of having classes moved online and people leaving the dorms has left a pretty big hole in my second year of school. In addition, with the online portion of the semester being handled relatively poorly due to a sudden need for virtual meetings and professor’s inexperience with using relevant technology, it was difficult to have an appropriate education at the time. Even worse, the loss of seeing people regularly helped create an element of isolation that a lot of people are still getting out of.
Even in following years, my classes were basically still all online, with only one being in person in my second semester. In addition to this, dorms prohibiting residents from inviting guests over really brought down the atmosphere of people coming and going that I appreciated in my freshman and first semester of sophomore year. While understandable, having people over would only increase the risk of getting the virus, it contributed to the strain that was already present. Especially since there was no way of knowing when vaccines would be available or when we could “return to normal.” In fact, I would say a “return to normal” is impossible, and that there is only going to be a “new normal” after what the world has been through.
For me, this senior year was a big change, since a lot of restrictions were lifted with case numbers mostly dropping across the board. Although the scares in regards to the Delta and Omicron variants and increasing death numbers put a damper on what could have otherwise been a much needed positive change for campus.
It’s only now that things seem to have gone back to where they were before, but not without the baggage of isolation people are still carrying. Knowing people who have died from the virus and the general struggle of keeping afloat in a world that has been ravaged physically, mentally and economically by the virus has ensured that there is no easy way forward.
I am hopeful that there will be improvements to people’s wellbeing and mental health with the virus slowly going away over time. However, I feel the experience I had in college really put a sad note on what others used to tell me would be the best years of my life. I hope that this is the end of it so those in the grades below me can have the proper college experience and won’t have the shadow of COVID-19 looming over them anymore.