Class of 2024: A Reflection of an Unusual Way to Start University

As we head into reading week, I decided it was time for me to do a bit of reflection. As a freshman, this will be my first ever reading week. Exciting? I've heard good things so yeah, I guess I'm hyped that we get a week off to study and catch up on work.

I am part of the class of 2024 which means I graduated from high school a couple of months ago. No live-in-person graduation. No highly-anticipated-for prom. No final goodbyes to beloved teachers and friends. This was the reality for many grade 12 senior students...including myself.

Okay, backstory time. I remember like it was yesterday. It was Thursday, March 12 and teachers were wishing us a great spring break (I come from a non-semestered high-school by the way), whilst telling us to prepare for our upcoming assignments after the break. I was talking to my friends what their plans for spring break were and realizing how quickly we were approaching the end of our high school careers. I went to work and started doing real estate related things (I'm a receptionist at a brokerage). And then, BAM. A little over 20 minutes after I arrived, I heard the accountant at the office get off the phone and said, "Holy sh*t". Concerned, I asked what happened and that's when she told me that schools across Ontario would be shut down for two additional weeks following spring break. I couldn't believe it.

As the weeks passed by, the Ontario government kept postponing the re-opening date for school. In short, that Thursday was the second-last day I spent in the physical building as an official high school student. School only re-opened in September, but of course I had graduated already by then.

If you had told me a year ago or even in early March that I would not have had graduation, prom or a normal start to my university career, I probably would have laughed out loud, never believing a word. But alas, here we are.

To be honest, it did hurt that many of us didn't get to experience our senior year the way that previous generations had. Shoutout to Ryerson's class of 2020 (and 2021 it looks like) who had a bit of their final semester and convocation ceremony online. My heart goes out to you! 

I came into university knowing for the most part that I wouldn’t have the typical freshman year. No fun-filled orientation week, no getting lost around campus trying to get to class on time, and no meeting new people (live in person at least).

Everything right now is delivered virtual, but it was no different then the second half of senior year back in high school. So for those of you who feel sorry for us freshmen for having our first university classes all virtual, don't feel too bad, many of us are already used to it. The transition for me, wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be which was a good thing.

But while I'm a realist, I don't want to end this reflection on a negative note.

Aside from all the negative parts of not having a typical first year, on the bright side, I don't have to commute an hour and a half to get to campus! Like many of you, I can just roll out of bed two minutes before my lecture and not miss anything! Technology is amazing (if you don't count lousy wi-fi and awkward Zoom breakout room sessions) and asynchronous classes are just wonderful. Unlike in high school, in many of my classes this semester, I don't even need to turn on my camera and my microphone which is truly a relief for a socially awkward being like me. To sum it up, I have a lot more time on my hands compared to if we had been on campus which means watching more episodes of The Good Place on Netflix!

I try not to think about what would have happened had the pandemic never occurred and I admit, it's hard sometimes. There are many instances in the day where I wonder, "What if....?" But I've been making the most of it by joining various clubs and writing for publications (like Her Campus!) and 'putting myself out there' as they say. There's so many opportunities here at Ryerson that suits everyone's liking, it's actually crazy. And a tip for all you freshmen out there like me (or anybody else, really), reach out to older students! I'm in Creative Industries and in my opinion, there are so many awesome people willing to help out if you just ask! 

In August, I joined the Tri-Mentoring program and started reaching out to many students in my program and asked them for advice. It was basically cold-emailing to any person who would listen and then give me any suggestion on how to succeed at Ryerson. Side note: the Tri-Mentoring program is a great Ryerson resource that hooks mentees with mentors who are usually in the same program but in upper year. In addition to the supportive community, there are so many other opportunities for further guidance and leadership for those willing to mentor younger students. 

So what am I trying to get at here? Yeah, COVID sucks, but it's out of our control, as in we can't control when it ends. However, at the end of the day, we just got to look at the positive and keep going from here. Go ahead and dwell on the past but eventually, you have to move on and continue to look ahead. Be grateful and make the most of what you've got. I don't want to sound preachy, but it's true. 

Eventually, better days will arrive once this COVID-19 pandemic is over. One day, even if it's a year from now, we'll all return to campus without the need for a mask and social-distancing, but as of now, we must remain diligent and do our best.

Have an awesome rest of your reading week!