By removing campus life, personal interactions, social events, and in-person classes, college is arguably stripped of its most vital appendages. This is the well-documented reality for students studying at Boston College in the spring of 2020. Each student faces unique challenges, and even these varying with class level.
For freshmen at Boston College, a quarter of their collegiate life has been spent online. Katie Hughes, MCAS ’23, laments that she won’t see her college classmates for five-and-a-half months. She adds, “[This] is longer than the time we had known each other.” Freshman year is a period of transition, and adapting to life in a new place with new classmates takes time.
College is short and every moment of it is valuable. Due to COVID-19 and quarantine, these moments have become even more valuable.
Looking ahead, Hughes wants life in seclusion to become, “a distant memory,” but she knows that the events of the past several months will likely shape the remainder of her college career. Hughes planned to go abroad, but now she is unsure.
“I am hesitant to leave my friends for yet another semester,” She explains. With a disjointed and fragmented freshman year, Hughes might make sacrifices to create continuity amid the turmoil.
Unfortunately for sophomores, the uncertainty of the future does not vanish with a year more of experience. Lexie Slotterback, Lynch ’22, describes her class as feeling, “a lot of fear of the future.” Despite this fear, she remains cautiously optimistic.
“We are probably in the best place in regards to timing,” Slotterback says. Second-year students may be in the perfect position to weather the storm. Slotterback has had time to adjust to life at BC, and has hope that her scholastic life will regain some semblance of normalcy. Her short tenure gives her hope that she can remain on track despite obvious setbacks. One casualty of COVID-19 is her plan to study abroad.
Given the global disorder and uncertainty, Slotterback has decided to withdraw from her study abroad program. Similar to Hughes, Slotterback considers her remaining time at BC priceless. She wants to, “utilize every minute we have left on campus,” and that means forgoing opportunities that would shorten her time at BC.
Slotterback admits that life at BC will change after the coronavirus. She fears that athletics, Stokes Set, and the Red Bandana Run might be the next victims of COVID-19. If the university practices diligence through social distancing and congregating in small groups, Slotterback worries that many, “essential parts of the fall at BC,” will be lost.
Junior Brendan Barnard, MCAS ’21, embodies the fears articulated by Hughes and Slotterback. Barnard was studying in Quito, Ecuador, before his semester was cut short by coronavirus.
He mourns lost opportunities. “I had trips planned to Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest,” Barnard reflects, noting, “It’s sad to think about how good my Spanish would have gotten if I had stayed all semester. I don't think that’s something I’ll ever be able to make up.”
As a result of school cancelations across the globe, many students abroad had trips canceled and learning opportunities cut short.
Studying abroad is famously significant at BC, and regarded as the pinnacle of many students’ academic careers. For Barnard, there are other quintessential BC experiences at risk of cancellation amid the coronavirus’ wake. “Though it may sound trite, it would be really disappointing to lose tailgates and football games as BC seniors,” Barnard says. “I just hope we get to be on campus more than anything.”
The viewpoint of students returning to campus in the fall is ubiquitous—life is uncertain and somewhat terrifying for all. Among seniors, the outlook is no different. Brendan Ruberry, MCAS ’20, eloquently describes the situation: “We're supposed to be enjoying the dying embers of our college lives and instead we're in our parents' basements. It's not ideal.”
Boston College seniors should be enjoying the classic walk down Linden Lane, graduation ceremony, commencement ball, and an innumerable number of senior-specific events.
Despite the loss, Ruberry remains appreciative, expressing, “It was a great 3.75 years. I wouldn't trade it for anything.” Although ending senior year preemptively is not ideal, seniors still have much to be grateful for.
With the seasoned worldliness of a graduating senior, Ruberry emphasizes this most important point, an opinion that many BC students share: “Most of us are very fortunate in having some place to go back to and where we're safe and we have our meals cooked for us. All the same, it sucks.”
Moving forward will not be easy—not for anyone. But time will move forward, and college will return.
Ruberry offers some stout advice for next year’s senior class, but it is advice applicable to all college students:
“Get Weird. No, but really, this is it. Curtain's about to fall, make it memorable. Some of the best friends I made in college I only met my senior year. You have a lot in front of you. But it goes fast. If I had to give one serious piece of advice, besides the other thing, it would be to tattoo the word ‘yes’ on your brain. Say yes to everything––trying new things, meeting new people, doing the thing you've always wanted to do but never have. Talking to that person, you know. Just say yes to life. There's no way of knowing whether you did it right, but you can do it big. You cannot go wrong.”
Coronavirus threatens to make collegiate social life a relic of some bygone era; an era where hugs and handshakes were commonplace, and the expression “the more the merrier” did not feel sadly ironic. Despite all of this, college will remain a precious time for BC students, and there is no time to waste.