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Making the Most of a Remote Senior Year

When the world devolved into the Coronavirus apocalypse last semester, I just kept thinking one thing: at least I’m not a senior. I watched as both high school and college seniors had important milestones ripped away from them.  Formals were canceled, traditions paused, and graduations postponed. I felt so sorry for them, and if I am being completely honest, I just kept saying to myself, “At least that isn’t me.”

Well, flash-forward to this semester. Here I am, writing this article while I’m balancing Zoom classes, online club meetings, and isolation from my friends. I, like many other students, elected to do this semester remotely. Everyone has their reasons for how they chose to approach the school year, but for me, doing online classes was the best decision for me and my family. However, I am now finding myself in the same position as the seniors I felt so bad for last semester. I am spending my senior year away from my friends, the campus I love, and experiences I was supposed to be having.

I understand we have all been affected by COVID-19, and I am in no way trying to minimize the things COVID has taken from others far more important than senior year, but still, it sucks. Missing out on senior year sucks. I want to be on campus with my friends. I want to be going to parties, and making connections with faculty, and being a part of the campus community. But I can’t. So how do we make the most of the hand we got dealt? Does senior year have to be just something we push through, hoping for better things to come?

The short answer is no. The biggest thing I have learned throughout all of COVID-19 is what actually matters. That sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. I have learned what relationships I value, what relationships I need. I have learned that it was never the frat parties I found fun but getting ready with my friends in my dorm room beforehand. I value the conversations with friends, the serotonin from FaceTime calls, and the hope of one day being reunited with the ones I love most. That is what I miss.

Parties are fun, don’t get me wrong. There are moments where I crave being out with all my friends, dancing in a sweaty basement. The thought of no longer going to football tailgates, missing the homecoming carnival on the Furman Mall, and not being able to experience the time leading up to Thanksgiving and Winter Break is heartbreaking. But, what I’ve come to terms with is the fact that as a senior, I have been lucky enough to have had these experiences before. I know what it’s like. I’ve done the “college experience.” Now, I have the opportunity to invest my time and last few months as a college student into the things I find rewarding in the long-term.

So what does that mean? Online classes are isolating. It’s difficult to feel like a college student when you aren’t walking around campus, seeing familiar faces and getting meals with friends. For me, I’ve had to retrain my thoughts to avoid FOMO. I try and remember that first and foremost, I am okay with being with myself and the people I am living with. It is okay that I don’t see a hundred different people in one day, and it’s okay that I am not having the senior year I thought I would.

I am still trying to do things to make the most of the year. I am doing small things to keep myself excited, like trying to plan graduation trips, celebrating each individual moment when I get to see or talk to my friends, and making photo albums of my favorite Furman memories. Mostly, I am just trying to keep my head up and push through. I am lucky to have had so many years of Furman memories, and even though I may not get all the experiences I was hoping for, I am trying to remember the good times I will always cherish.

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