First it destroyed the second half of our senior year, a time where we looked forward to taking a well-deserved break from the unremitting stressors of high school and to finally enjoying the company of our friends and family. However, this wasn’t enough for the Coronavirus because next in line was our first year of college, a milestone moment, marking a major transition into adulthood. That leaves us, the Class of 2024, here: transitioning to college during a global pandemic. It by no means has been easy. Personally, the pandemic has added an extra layer of stress to the already scary process of entering the collegiate realm. Having to worry about my health in addition to staying on top of classes and dealing with the sporadic moments of homesickness has definitely stirred up a category 5 hurricane in my brain more than once this term. Friend-making has also been complicated, as social events and gatherings have been limited. Online learning is another challenge. College courses are a completely different species from high school classes, and, when you add the barrier of Zoom, the academic transition becomes all the more exhausting.
I can probably go on and on about how the coronavirus has created an abundance of obstacles for the Class of 2024’s transition to college, but I think by now, we all are aware of them. However, I personally don’t think we have spent enough time acknowledging the hidden gems of this pandemic. And yes, I did say “hidden gems.” Believe it or not there is a silver lining to all of this chaos. Of course, I am writing from my own point of view, so I completely understand if you do not agree, and I do certainly acknowledge that everyone’s transition is different. As someone who has definitely felt the weight of this year’s transition, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the silver linings I have found in this transition of uncertainty. So without further ado, here they are:
1. We are saving LOTS of time
As I was ranting to my sister about how all I want is to be back in the classroom, she brought up a very valid point, which is that we are saving LOTS of time not having to walk from class to class or from club to club. I definitely never considered that. With Zoom University, we don’t have to risk getting up late, putting on our pants backwards, and then dashing to class only to realize that the class starts at 9 not 8:30. Instead, we can wake up 5 minutes before class, and, if it doesn’t start until 9, we can easily take the four-foot journey back to bed. To me, that is luxury. Also, not to mention that the weather is often cold or rainy, making online classes all the more appealing! So, you may ask: what can you do with this extra time? Socialize? Roam around? Procrastinate? Watch Netflix? Sleep? The possibilities are endless!
2. A newfound respect for the little things
This silver lining can apply to all of the classes, but I think this pandemic has particularly allowed the Class of 2024 to appreciate what college, specifically Dartmouth, has to offer. Not having the normal amount of opportunities to fully experience college life, we become appreciative of the small things college gives us, such as the unexpected friendships you make while waiting in line at Foco or the sudden spark of excitement when you recognize someone from your class on the Green. Personally, this pandemic has made me realize how lucky I am to be here and to have these amazing opportunities. It has given me a new, humbling perspective on college.
3. A stronger sense of community
I think COVID has forced our class to engage with each other in new and creative ways! From the 24-hour Zoom events to new GroupMes to Facebook polls, we haven’t let corona stop us from fostering a sense of community. In fact, I think corona has made our class even more connected, as tough times tend to bring people closer together. Fast forward to the future, as seniors, we will hopefully look back at our freshmen fall, reminiscing and laughing about how we wrongly identified people in Foco or how we walked across campus completely forgetting to wear a mask (cough cough me)!
4. Sympathy from profs?
This is probably the most controversial point I will make, but from my own experiences and the people I have talked to, for many classes the professors have adapted their course to Zoom in a way that has favored our sanity and grades. Many professors have opted for open-book assessments instead of the traditional closed-book tests we would have been taking in-person. Some have also been more “lenient” with grading, giving corona points to us, as they are well aware that transitioning to college academics via Zoom is not ideal. Of course, take all of this with a grain of salt because it definitely doesn’t apply to all courses or professors.
5. We escaped the Choates!
Many of us have been blessed by the dorm gods with upperclassmen housing. Prior to coming to Dartmouth, I heard a fair share of “horror” stories about freshman dorming, specifically about the Choates. Well, let’s just say we got lucky because upperclassmen dorms are not too shabby!
This is all to say that despite the plethora of hurdles we all are facing this year, there are always a few hidden gems buried beneath the chaos. So, I encourage you all to spend some time reflecting on the unexpected positive experiences you have had this year. Has this pandemic given you something special? What are your gems?! Of course, it is completely alright if you can’t find any because there is no denying that this has been an extremely difficult time, but nonetheless, please know that everything will always work out. You will eventually find those gems!