As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, universities across the country have implemented varying levels of precautions in preparation for the 2020 Fall semester. The overwhelming majority of schools have shifted to a predominantly online learning model to minimize student and faculty exposure to the virus.
College students, while being of a higher risk of spreading the disease, are extraordinarily unlikely to die from it. The American Council on Science and Health has reported data indicating that, as of June 17, only 125 people ages 15-24 have died of Covid-19 in the United States, making up only 0.1% of all deaths. The CDC recommends that students still take precautions in order to prevent large outbreaks on campuses as much as possible. This includes isolating when feeling sick or having a confirmed contact with a Covid patient, limiting social activity, social distancing when possible, and keeping your environment sanitized frequently. In addition to the CDC guidelines, some schools have taken extra precautionary measures to limit chances for spread on campus. These measures include hand sanitizer stations, limiting the number of people in any confined space, and more meticulous cleaning measures.
Despite guidelines for opening safely and the fact that students are of exrremely low risk, a great number of universities have transitioned to fully online formats for the fall term. In light of having most or all of their classes online, students have been faced with a unique and difficult choice between returning to campus to continue their college experience or staying at home to save money on housing.
A University of Michigan student, Spencer Lukas, despite having all of his classes moved online months ago, has decided to move back to campus for the fall. “I will start by living on campus in an effort to maintain friendships I built freshman year. You only get four years to go to college, so I figured I should truly make the most out of them despite these trying times.” Many other students share this same mindset. However, not all students have the same opportunity.
Data from College Ave Student Loans indicates that students’ financial stability has plummeted as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. An estimated 56% of students will need to borrow more in student loans, 43% will be using a higher portion of their family’s savings, and 40% will need to work more than one job in order to remain at their university.
Memphis Heikkila, a student at DePaul University, has opted to remain at home for the fall term. “My dad is the GM of a restaurant, and he was out of work for at least 2 months when everything shut down. My mom is a freelance makeup artist, and has been out of work since February. Due to this, we haven’t been making as much income as normal. We have requested more financial aid from both the University and the Government, but have received none.” Memphis’s decision to remain at home rather than pay expensive Chicago rent is something many students at the University have weighed upon. “Covid-19 was a big reason, but also the fact that DePaul wasn’t lowering tuition. Going online won’t give me the same education as I would from in person.” DePaul University has been the target of multiple lawsuits for the causes of reducing tuition, and refunding tuition for classes that have already taken place online.
Those put into an especially unique situation as a result of the online learning are incoming freshmen. Many schools have closed dorms and other on campus housing options, leaving nearly all freshmen without options for arriving on campus. “As heartbreaking as it is not to be able to live on campus my freshman year, I’m glad they made the decision to close down the dorms prior to moving in. All it would take is one party to start a huge outbreak on campus.” says Darby Pickford in response to Michigan State University’s decision to shutter dorms for the fall semester. Freshmen students, despite being college students, will be deprived of the ordinary first year college experience so many look with anticipation to for their four years of High School. Remaining positive, Darby said, “I plan to stay home and use this as an opportunity to save some money.”
Although many students are disappointed that they are unable to have an ordinary college experience, most are remaining optimistic while looking forward to returning to campus when Universities decide it is safe to do so. The ability to adapt in the modern day is important, and in the coming months we will see if this generation of students is prepared to adapt to whatever this experience throws at them.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.