Welcome to the COVID-19 College Experience

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In early March, our world seemed to spiral out of control. I remember being dressed in my KU shirt, getting ready to watch the Jayhawks start their journey in the National Tournament. It was supposed to be the beginning of several weeks of cheering for and socializing around college basketball. It’s one of my favorite times of year!

But then, Covid-19 hit the U.S.

I remember getting the ESPN text alert that the NCAA tournament had been cancelled. I stood still. I was completely dumbfounded! What?! Cancel the entire tournament? How could this happen?

Flash forward to middle of April, and I honestly can’t remember what it feels like to get out of my house for more than just the grocery store or other “necessary” trips. Gone are my morning workouts at the gym. Gone are date nights. Gone are impromptu errand runs just because I had the time.

It’s all…gone.

I’ve been dealing pretty well considering how much life has changed. Being a stay-at-home mom since 2001, I’m used to literally “being at home.” This new way of life made me go back to my old ways and adjust to working out at home, letting my roots grow to their original color and doing my own nails.

Like everyone else, I’ve been staying up to date on all things Coronavirus, mainly through social media. I’ve been able to weed through the highs and lows, armed with my nursing knowledge, letting the news that wasn’t accurate fall quickly to the wayside.

Then something happened that broke me.

I was scrolling through my feed and came across an article on higher education and what the fall semester might look like. Two of my kids are home from college and just like every other college student, their lives have been drastically and abruptly uprooted. They are doing all classes online, even science labs. They have been stripped of all college social aspects and thrown back “full-time” into the homes they have been accustomed to only “visit.”

This article that made tears fall like lead filled bubbles talked about the real possibility of fall college classes continuing online instead of face-to -ace.

 Once again, I was stunned.

I’m not sure why this hit me so hard. Maybe I had convinced myself that this would “be over” by the end of summer and all would be back to normal come August.

But as I read the words, my brain started envisioning what my boys’ fall semester might look like. There would be no “moving them back to school” excitement. There would be no college football games for my oldest, (who will be in his Senior year), to march in with the marching band. There would be no social activities that make college so much fun!

Think back to your college years. No matter what type of student you were, you were given the freedom to walk to class and to meet new people. You had the freedom from your parents to stay out late and do things that felt “adult.” You had the freedom to make choices and mistakes that helped shape who you would be in your 20s and 30s.

My boys, and everyone else in this phase of life, have had that stripped from them. This isn’t just about a few weeks of online education or not making rent because your job isn’t “essential”. To me, as a mom, this is affecting my boys in ways that won’t ever come around again.

It’s affecting more than just their grades and how they learn. It’s affecting how they are finding themselves. It’s affecting how they will grow and mature and who they will be for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, there is no one to blame. No company to picket. No side of the aisle to back. This is affecting all of us in various ways and to various degrees. Some of us will recover in a few months or a few years. But for others, this is something that we won’t ever fully recover from. This is something that will mold us, bend us and maybe even break us.

 All I know is that my boys won’t have the college experience that those before them did. This realization makes me feel angry, sad, and utterly helpless.

I do feel a some comfort knowing that this “Corona College Experience” is a unique one. One that I hope no other generation will experience ever again.        

And if they do… this generation will be one they can learn from…good or bad.