When my college announced that we would be having the fall 2020 semester on-campus, I was pretty excited. After six months of living at home with my parents with nothing to do, my study abroad trip in May canceled, and my 21st birthday plans down the drain, going back to campus meant that I would regain some of my individuality and see my friends again. But since we've returned, it has not been as fun as I had hoped my senior year of college would be.
Whether a senior in high school or a senior in college, that last year is something to look forward to. It comes with perks and celebrations. However, those happy times seem to be stamped out by the pandemic. The only friends I have hung out with live off-campus since living in an on-campus dorm means I am not allowed to have visitors. Social events are canceled. Three out of six of my classes are completely online, leaving me to teach myself, and go to my other three classes wearing a mask and not meeting any new people — we have to keep our distance.
Our breaks were taken away from us. Professors seem to not understand that no one really thrives in an online learning environment, and they tack on tedious assignment after assignment as if we all don't have four or five other classes (and professors) who are doing the same exact thing. The lack of breaks means we are working extremely hard throughout the semester without the much-needed reprieve. What they don't seem to understand is that when we are constantly working without rest, we become stressed.
Mental health issues are rising, and there is no sign of a decline any time soon.
Depression and anxiety work together to stress us out and make us tired. We eat less and sleep less. Our immune systems start to shut down. We start to get sick. This is why every year, we get the "finals flu." But this year, the finals flu will probably be COVID-19.
It isn't so much the breaks being taken away from us that is what is making this school year so awful. It's all of the things I had planned to do this year that were ripped away from me. There is an intense dread I have that I will not have the graduation ceremony I worked so hard to get to. It will not be worth it if my name is called and a picture of me shows up on a screen, or worse, my parents who supported me emotionally and financially through college will not be able to watch me cross the stage in person.
So with nothing to look forward to and professors piling on work without any consideration for their students, it's no wonder that some of us are just in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Most of my friends who I talk to all answer the same way, "This semester is crazy," "I don't even know what day it is," "I feel like I'm not learning," "I just go from due date to due date."
By the beginning of next semester, when colleges expect us all to return from winter break rested and ready, it will be interesting to see their reactions when half of us are just as miserable as we now.