“COVID-19 (new coronavirus disease) has forced all of us to reimagine how we deliver an engaging and holistic learning experience for students. While it presents its challenges, it is also a massive opportunity to break out of old habits and create new, impactful, relevant modes of learning that take advantage of technology and this moment.”
—Gaidi Faraj, dean of African Leadership University
With college comes new experiences. Nearly every student has dreamed of the college experience in one way or another. From a new campus and forming lasting relationships to the long-awaited independence from family, the college experience awaits.
Just like any experience, it will be different for everyone. But the focal points of the college experience have been vastly similar across the globe for years—classes on campus, meet-ups with friends, on-campus living.
But times have changed and the long-awaited college experience we’ve come to know has gone through a drastic change.
With very few exceptions, a college degree is necessary for a high-paying, high-status job, which gains you respect both socially and economically.
Students around the world hold college education to utmost importance. In the United States, this has led students into financial debt that they must pay back for many years after graduating. According to a study by the Federal Reserve, each of over half of batch 2018 college graduates owed $29,800 (P1.5 million).
Many colleges around the world had plans to improve the college experience with the use of technology. Then came COVID-19. Campus life has become restricted for everyone’s well-being. Colleges have been forced to quickly implement new ideas that change the college experience as we know it.
Classes were moved online, study abroad programs were cancelled, campus life was shut down. Many students are still confined to their homes, wondering how and how long this global health crisis will affect their college experience.
Is this health crisis the drastic change that will overhaul the college system?
In our “new normal,” the logistics of the new college experience remain uncertain. Even the plans of colleges around the world to reopen this academic year vary.
Plans include welcoming students back to campus while implementing safety guidelines. These colleges aim to limit residential occupancy, postpone reopening of schools and end the academic year before Thanksgiving. This is because students have expressed difficulties of remote learning due to lack of resources, and this is the only way some colleges can stay afloat financially.
Another plan includes holding online classes throughout the academic year, to compel students to attend classes instead of taking a gap year.
Other colleges plan on shifting class schedules to minimize virus transmission by alternating the in-person student population, minimizing student population on campus and block scheduling, among other things. Still, many more colleges are uncertain about how to reopen.
As a high school junior, this makes me think of how uncertain my batch’s college experience will be. In two years, will there be more online colleges than on-campus colleges? Will there be study-abroad restrictions? Will college still be an essential part of our education system?
The college experience we’ve all come to know has changed. But how it will continue to change, how drastic the change will be and whether this change is advantageous is still an uncertainty.
All we know is that just like everything else, there will be a new normal for the college experience. —CONTRIBUTED
The author is a writer for Beacon Academy Publications.