Seniors face an uncertain future

Angelique Gingras, Author, Editor

Senior year is an exciting time for students. Class color day, college acceptances, senior picnic, senior awards, prom, and graduation, along with a newfound sense of responsibility, all make up this important milestone in one’s life. Unfortunately, the Class of 2020, myself included, has not been able to experience the typical senior year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My senior year was everything I hoped it would be until schools closed on March 13th. Originally scheduled for just two weeks, I don’t think any of us could have imagined that would be our last typical day of high school. This experience has allowed me to reflect on some of my most important moments of high school, while also approaching my future college plans with anticipation and awareness.

For seniors, commencement marks the beginning of the next phase of our lives, and as much as I am disappointed about missing out on prom, spirit week, and a traditional graduation ceremony, I am even more apprehensive for the future of my peers and I. We are all getting ready to go off on our own, whether it be to college, joining the military, or entering the workforce. Many of us weren’t ready to finalize our fall plans until a few weeks ago, when our country was in the middle of a crisis, making the decision even more difficult.

As our country begins the early stages of reopening, colleges and career opportunities are going to depend on how people handle lifestyle changes we’ve learned from the pandemic, and we can’t control their decisions. With this comes lots of uncertainty, causing seniors like me to consider the implications of starting college in the fall.

I will be attending University of Maryland, College Park starting in the fall, and they haven’t made any announcement whether they plan on beginning as usual or not. I didn’t get the opportunity to have a formal tour or attend Open House before the pandemic started, and our summer orientation has been moved completely online. I’m missing out of the connections I should be making with the campus, my professors, and the peers in my program, all with the concern of missing out on the college experience I’ve been dreaming about since freshman year.

I am not the only one with this issue. Many of my friends going to out of state schools are facing the idea of a delayed start time. Senior Isis Shrader will be attending the American Musical and Dramatical Academy in Los Angeles, CA.

“My college is planning to start in the fall, however, the start date had been pushed back to November,” said Shrader. “On one hand, I’m disappointed to not be leaving on time, but on the other hand, it gives me more time to work to pay for college expenses.”

Some colleges have a different approach and are thinking ahead to a possible relapse of COVID-19 once the weather turns cold. Senior Kaitlin Russell will be attending North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they have modified their summer plans and start time to accommodate another possible outbreak.

“My college is starting nine days early [August 10] and not taking a fall break in order to send us home before Thanksgiving Break because of an expected winter return of the virus,” said Russell. “Other than this unexpected change, preparations online have been going smoothly.”

Regardless what the situation may be, it looks like many schools are taking precautions they deem necessary for seriousness of the pandemic in their region. While colleges are at the early stages of their fall plan, those of us entering the workforce are likely to be faced with dilemmas as well. Seniors who plan to work full-time may have trouble finding jobs. The unemployment rate has been at a record low in many cities, and jobs are doing less hiring because of the minimal capacity in which they can house.

No matter what seniors decide to do, the experience is going to be different for everyone. Our country faces a long road to recovery and we just happen to have felt the brunt of it, but I hope many of you, like me, have tried to keep a positive outlook on the situation. I hope you can take solace in the fact that this crisis has been completely out of our control. Most of us have managed to survive the past two and a half months of online schoolwork and adjusting to a new normal. We have to be patient for whatever the beginning of the rest of our lives are going to look like.