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American University's switch from a normal, in-person semester, to hybrid, to fully-online was nothing short of jarring. Many students didn't know what to make of the switch or how it would affect their academic and personal lives. For August's Editors' Blog, the HCAU Editorial Team wrote out their personal struggles and solutions to this trying situation. 

 

Unconventional Senior Year 

This semester is super unsettling for me since I am starting my senior year of COLLEGE! Like what??? Didn’t think I’d make it this far!! It is an unconventional beginning to an important year, but I am doing my best to make it fun, memorable, and maybe even try to learn something! 

I ended up going back to DC to attempt online school with my four roommates from our townhouse. We ended up renewing our lease in May, not knowing how school would play out in the fall. After spending the summer at my childhood home in Georgia, I am relieved to be back.

I am very grateful for the position I’m in, as I know lots of students scrambled to find housing. I also am able to continue my internship online and my on-campus job. I’m very grateful for this as well since lots of internships and on-campus jobs were cancelled or shut down completely. 

I am so glad AU decided to proceed in an online format this semester. I am not so glad about the 10% discount on tuition for the 30% of AU resources we can actually utilize. 
At this point, I’m excited for the future– whatever it may look like. This semester is strange and I don’t know what normal is or what it will be, but I’m with my best friends and I’m learning about the world from the heart of this nation, so it’s all about the silver linings. --Hannah Andress

Thank You, AU

Thank you, American University, for making August 2020 one of the most hectic and stressful months of my life. 

Typically, when you unleash chaos in my life, it’s over classes, finals, midterms, papers– the typical college stuff. But this time, you really outdid yourself, AU. After the original announcement of hybrid classes a few months back– which forced me and my friends to scramble and sign a lease for a place to live off-campus– you then announced your switch to a semester entirely online. 

I got this email while I was at work at one of the four summer jobs I held to save up for house essentials I wasn’t supposed to need. And right there in the middle of work, I cried. Cried at the uncertainty and frustration this email brought because I didn’t have a clue anymore what my junior year looked like.

Would I continue as a full-time student or drop down to part-time? Would I be taking classes from home or my new house in DC? Would I need to find a sub-letter? Would I be able to find a job or internship to fill my time if I did switch to being a part-time student? Would I be taking summer classes? Would I graduate on-time? Would I be taking gap semester or year? 

It was a lot to process in the middle of my daycare job surrounded by sixteen toddlers. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why you went online. Especially after seeing other campuses shutting down just a week into their semester. For this, I can say I actually support your online decision. This pandemic is far from over or contained and you weren’t about to let yourself become a coronavirus Petri dish. 

But you have to admit, you did spring it on us pretty last minute and close to the day classes were scheduled to begin. 

The next few days after receiving your email, my life consisted of calling financial aid and my advisor on a rotating basis. Don’t forget, I was currently working four jobs while trying to rearrange my graduation plan virtually to see which scenario is both the most efficient, logical and financially responsible. 

I’m one of the lucky ones, I got to come back to DC to live with my friends and be a full-time student. And I am so beyond grateful to be able to do this and be healthy duirng a time where so many weren't afforded that luxary. But you could have saved me a lot of headache, AU, if you had just announced you’d be online from the get-go. --Peyton Bigora 

 

A Memorabel Semester

Like for most people, 2020 has brought parts of my life to an abrupt halt and thrown the rest into complete chaos.

I had everything planned out: I’d spend four amazing months studying abroad in France, move to DC a few weeks after flying back to the US, start an internship in July and finally lock down my fall schedule and internship prospects before the start of the semester.

COVID derailed all of that. What should have been a busy semester turned into me sitting around for two months, out of school and unemployed, until the restaurant I worked at finally reopened in June. All of the internships I had applied for were cancelled, and even finding a job for the fall seemed impossible with all of the financial struggles the country had been thrown into.

I was already stressed about what the rest of the summer would look like, but as a rising college senior, I was even more worried about what would happen with the upcoming academic year. This was my last year of school, and I wanted it to be memorable.

When AU announced their plans to return to campus in the fall, I was more than ready to finally sign the lease on an apartment I had been looking at for a while. Finding roommates was a whole nightmare in and of itself, but after a few stressful weeks, I had everything worked out and I was set to move to DC in August.

The uncertainty of everything has been the most confusing part. It’s not easy to plan out the rest of your year when your school, living and employment situations are constantly changing. This fall semester is my first time attending college online, so I’m still trying to get used to the new style of learning.

I’ve managed to work things out, however, and I’m grateful to finally be back in DC, finishing up my degree. I hope the spring semester will see more normalcy coming back into our lives, but in the meantime I think I can safely say this will definitely be a memorable semester, if nothing else. --Nicole Scallan

 

Remaining Hopeful 

My story is no different than a lot of others. COVID-19 completely turned my world upside down. I was forced to go back to an old high school job that I despised, locked in my childhood bedroom with nowhere else to escape to and I had to try to plan around an unpredictable fall semester ahead of me. Although the spring and summer completely failed to meet any of my expectations, I remained hopeful for the fall. 

That was until I received an email from my university that we were going to be fully online for the fall semester. 

This email came shortly after my friends and I finally signed a lease to what seemed to be the last apartment available in the American University area. We only had a few days of relief before receiving the dreaded email. 

Thankfully, everything worked out for the better. I don’t have to worry about COVID-19 cases spiking on my campus, I no longer have to work from my home with three siblings and a dog and I am able to live with friends. 

Zooming in from a new apartment is not what I expected, but it is definitely more efficient than working from my childhood bed. 

I am grateful for a lot of things this semester. Being a full-time student, having a paying job, and living with my best friends from college. My university should’ve made this decision from the start, but I can’t ask for everything in a time where a lot of people have and know nothing. --Christina McAlister

 

Despite how difficult and exhausting these adjustments were, we all came out on the other side with resolutions. Everything may not have worked out as we had hoped, but there is always some good to be found (even if you have to squint a bit). As Nicole wrote, perfectly summing up the start to Fall 2020: this will definitely be a memorable semester, if nothing else. 

Peyton is a student at American University in Washington, D.C. and is HCAU's Editor in Chief. Majoring in journalism and double minoring in political science and creative writing, Peyton intends on graduating in May 2022. Peyton's goal is to write for a major news organization as a print or online journalist. She also wants to continue traveling, exploring and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her and her work, visit https://peytonbigora.wixsite.com/website .
Hannah Andress

American '21

Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus American. Currently an undergraduate student at American University involved in the Global Scholars program studying International Studies and Arabic. Preferred gender pronouns are she/her/hers. Her interests include national security, women in politics, international human and civil rights, and creating an impact that is long-lasting and sustainable.
Nicole (she/they) is a political science major at American University. She has been a writer for Her Campus since 2018 and an editor since 2019. She loves to write about politics, social activism and pop culture.
Christina studies Journalism and Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. She has a deep passion for human interest stories, traveling, and politics. Christina enjoys writing for Her Campus because it brings the stories of young college womxn all together like no other platform or news outlet does.
Emma Semaan

American '22

Emma (she/her) is a student at American University studying Public Policy and Economics. A member of the Politics, Policy and Law Scholars program, she is very interested in a lot of boring subjects; currently her not-boring focus is effective political discourse on college campuses. When she's not in class, she's likely typing away at her latest big project or paper, and on the weekends she is most likely to be spotted at any of the numerous coffee shops in DC. Her interests include too-hot coffee and too-long books and dogs that she doesn't own but wishes she did.
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