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COVID-19 & College Students: Yes, Young Adults Are at Risk Too

Everyone is really tired of hearing the words “corona,” “quarantine” and “social distancing.” But as colleges are navigating their reopening plans and its student body is edging to go out and socialize, it’s important to recognize that the nation is still amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Content creator and college student Abby Asselin shared with her YouTube audience of more than 87K subscribers that although college students are getting restless at home, the coronavirus shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I recently spoke with the YouTuber and Podcaster at Gen Z Girl Podcast, who says she was “so surprised to have contracted COVID-19” after going to a friend’s house in Texas with her boyfriend.” Asselin notes she was being “much more careful than most people [her] age,” and hadn’t been in public settings in Texas before testing positive. She described catching COVID-19 in a non-public place as “scary.”

It’s hard to understand how scary the virus is until you’ve experienced it yourself

“You can never be too careful, and my situation is the perfect example of that,” Asselin explains. “Going to a friend’s house seems harmless in practice, and is what a lot of people around the high school/college age are doing right now. But it definitely isn’t a situation where you’re safe even though it isn’t considered ‘public.’”

Her initial symptoms included heaviness in the chest and tightness in the center of the upper back, later feeling a weird sensation in her throat that led to a dry cough. She never ran a fever, yet experienced severe migraines, sensitivity to light, fatigue, extreme body aches, a stuffy nose, and loss of smell and taste for a few days.

“I encourage college students and younger generations to sacrifice their temporary enjoyment for the wellbeing of our parents, grandparents, family members, friends, teachers and others, because the quicker we can all get on the same page, the quicker we can return to some sort of normalcy,” she advocates. “No one truly understands the significance of this virus until they’ve experienced the pain of it with symptoms or are close to someone who was severely affected by it or lost their life from it.”

Take a break from the social scene 

This idea to leave masks behind and bring a White Claw to a friend’s backyard bash may cost more of the fall college experience. Business Insider reports that despite more than three-quarters of colleges and universities stating their intentions to reopen, no decision is final, especially if the nation experiences a surge in cases. Academic plans are still ambiguous, too, as professors are assessing face-to-face learning versus online instruction, according to The New York Times. Asselin believes the college social scene “literally revolves around the top COVID-19 breeding grounds: bars, large and intimate social gatherings, sharing drinks, etc.,” exerting caution to this target audience.

“If you’re desperate to dive back into the social scene, stick to going outdoors with friends while wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines,” she recommends. “If you attend those COVID ‘breeding grounds,’ you’re basically asking to get infected and sentencing yourself to being completely alone for two weeks and making up with school incredibly difficult.” She encourages avoiding these places until the virus is eradicated to prevent these far-reaching repercussions.

Asselin says even though remote communication is the new norm, COVID-19 shouldn’t prohibit getting fresh air each day, exercising during free time and prioritizing mental health.

“Gen Z is the most experienced with virtual communication, so harness those skills and find what learning and working setup works best for you. And communicate, communicate, communicate!”

The digital media connoisseur plans on returning to the University of Alabama in the fall and, of course, being vigilant to follow current CDC guidelines. Although this is an unprecedented time, college students can surely make the most of their experience, as long as they don’t undermine the pandemic.

“I can’t force anyone to understand how serious COVID-19 is and how scary it is,” Asselin adds. “Just because you are young and healthy does NOT mean you won’t get COVID-19, won’t have symptoms, won’t infect others or won’t end up in the hospital with serious complications. The longer we keep pretending it doesn’t exist, the more chances you’re allowing for someone close to you to become severely ill or lose their life, and the longer it will be before we have a ‘normal’ working or college experience.”

Victoria Giardina is currently studying at the College Honors Program at The College of New Jersey with a major in Journalism and Professional Writing in the School of Arts and Communication and minors in Communication Studies and Interactive Multimedia. She lives in Manalapan, NJ. Her articles and other written work has been featured in "The Dr. Oz Show," (DoctorOz.com), WebMD, Medscape, CNN, and, of course, Her Campus. As a creative, Victoria enjoys reading new books, journaling, spending *too much time* on Pinterest and browsing lifestyle blogs (all with an iced coffee in hand). Check out her digital portfolio here: https://www.victoriagiardina.com.