Nicole Abriam




Nicole Abriam

To defer, or to not defer: how badly has the pandemic affected college students?

~ Current events







Published August 23, 2020


Artwork by Bella Brooks

To defer, or to not defer? At the peak of the pandemic, this is a question asked by many soon-to-be and returning college students. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, anxieties, concerns, and a looming sense of doom has risen in everyone’s mind - especially for those who have invested thousands on higher education. College is a huge step for many young adults and it is not always an easy journey; unfortunately, it has become a particular challenge for many of our generation’s students.

I spent two years and a few months in community college and finally graduated this past summer semester - I celebrated the finality of my first journey in higher education in my room eating Target-bought cake. My ceremony was cancelled. I was unable to invite friends and coworkers for a celebratory gathering because of fears of contracting the virus or spreading it. All I could manage were congratulatory messages through texts and Instagram DMs. It’s not just me; students across the globe that have been experiencing this — and who knows how long it will last.

With the news that classes have to be online for at least the Fall 2020 semester, there are constant concerns for 
the future and quality of our classrooms and $100,000 higher education. Will it even be worth it? Is anyone going to attend in the fall? Are the online classes good? Will it be the same experience? These are just some of the questions asked by the other admitted students I have gotten to know through the social networks of The New School University in New York, a college I’ve been admitted to that I’ve decided to attend this Fall. Besides questioning whether deciding to take online classes will be worthwhile, there are other issues with dorming, students hesitating to move out of their state, or even their country.

I was able to speak to a few students who are planning to attend the Fall semester with all the changes that have happened and they all seem to have similar reactions. Caitlyn has pointed out that going to college is “one of the biggest transitions in [her] life.” She has dreamt of moving to New York City to pursue a career in fashion since she was in seventh grade, but this has now been put on hold. For some, however, the new quarantine routine is also somewhat opportunistic. “At the same time though, unique circumstances create unique opportunities.” says Christopher Kitchen, another admitted student at The New School.

I was able to speak to a few students who are planning to attend the Fall semester with all the changes that have happened and they all seem to have similar reactions. Caitlyn has pointed out that going to college is “one of the biggest transitions in [her] life.” She has dreamt of moving to New York City to pursue a career in fashion since she was in seventh grade, but this has now been put on hold. For some, however, the new quarantine routine is also somewhat opportunistic. “At the same time though, unique circumstances create unique opportunities.” says Christopher Kitchen, another admitted student at The New School. “...I’ve tried to focus less on many things lost due to the pandemic, and focus on the ways I can adapt and find new potentials.”

One of the other questions that I had to ask was about online classes: Do you like online classes? Do you think it will be worth the tuition money you’ve invested? Justine Abriam, who is a pre-med and biology major, has stated that certain classes are better in person. “In my case, it’s important as a bio major to be able to participate in laboratory activities in order to understand and visualize some of the material, and those resources aren’t available in an online setting,” she explains to me. For some, it is the limit of interaction. Caitlyn is unable to get direct


feedback from her teacher in AP Art class and Kitchen feels that this can create a “much more isolating experience.” 

Is going online necessary? Or is there a better alternative? The students that answered this question gave the same response: it’s necessary. “I don’t feel like there’s any real safe alternative until this all blows over,” Kitchen mentions. “With no vaccine, it really isn’t safe for schools to be open at this point in time,” says Caitlyn. Many schools across the globe have made this decision to
close campuses and turn online based on the concern for the public’s health and safety and the CDC policies that will help us flatten the curve. As these students have explained, online classes can create barriers in the learning experience, but how else does this affect other students?


ICE discriminates again...

As some may have heard, there was a new guideline enforced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that threatened the future and education of foreign students staying in the United States on student visas. The basic outline is that international students could face deportation if they do not do part of their studies on-campus; this means that international students would need to risk their health and safety to be on campus, or ICE can deport them. As The Media Line reports, many of these international students chose America to get their education“to escape dangerous, unsafe and considerably disadvantaged situations in their home countries,” as American-English teacher Koshila Ratnayake states.

The decision made by ICE puts further strain and anxiety on international students with fears of returning to their possibly unsafe homeland, on top of feeling like outsiders or criminals (despite going through the legal process of providing documents to obtain the student visa) as well as the uncertainty of this public health crisis. It is a very vulnerable time for college students, especially international students who are being discriminated against by this new ICE rule, forced to risk their lives or otherwise be threatened to abruptly leave the country.

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© Nicole Abriam