Today marks the beginning of my senior year at DePaul, and I, as well as many of my friends, could not be more excited. For the class of 2021, it is officially our last "first day of school" as undergrads. Another quarter of Zoom University is never how I expected to begin my senior year, and though I believe it is the safest action to be taking right now, I am definitely feeling nostalgic as a I reflect upon my time at DePaul.
From what I have read in emails from the university, DePaul is doing its best to enforce COVID-19 regulations and precautions, with the most obvious being moving our classes online and not allowing freshmen to move into the dorms. In addition, all students needed to complete virtual COVID-19 safety training before our first day of class, and we are required to screen ourselves on the #CampusClear app if we need to attend campus for any reason. As sad as I am to not be returning to campus this fall, I understand the risks of attending in-person classes and feel much safer doing my work from home.
For selfish reasons, I am definitely not looking forward to another ten weeks of zoom meetings. I actually find them more challenging. Based on personal experience, if I were to show up to a class prior to COVID-19 and hadn't had the time to complete the readings due on that day, it was far less likely that I would be called on during a discussion. Given our new zoom learning requirements, professors try their very best to ensure that all students have a chance to speak and receive their participation points for the week. As a result, I feel much more compelled to be on top of my game for fear of getting called on and not being able to answer a question. I find myself adding extra hours to my schedule in order to ensure that I have the time to be taking proper notes and comprehending readings to the best of my ability. If you're a college student, you're no stranger to skimming, but I'm learning that it is not a very effective study tool when it comes to zoom.
Oddly enough, I never thought I would want to be leaving my apartment a few minutes late, hoping that the line at Dunkin' Donuts would move quickly enough so that I could race to my unassigned seat before my professor started a lecture. I think back to all the days that I absolutely dreaded having to participate in a group project or discussion, and I now find it ironic that I would love to be in a group setting offering my thoughts. I remember the days where I was anxious for a quiz, sat staring at the clock and walked through hallways flooded with students. I miss parties, mixers and the fact that we rarely had class on Fridays. As of now, I may no longer be able to participate in an in-person recruitment or philanthropy week with my sorority, or have the chance to perform at a concert with my acapella group. Nevertheless, I will always cherish the memories these organizations have given me over the years. I know that there is a distinct possibility that I will not be able to do any of these things within the remainder of my college career, and if I can, it will never be the same as it once was. With that being said, words cannot express the love and gratitude I have for being able to attend DePaul. Most importantly, the greatest lesson I have learned from being a student in a pandemic is to take nothing for granted.