The ideas expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The New Courier.

College Experience 2020

by Tiffany Pfeiffer
October 16, 2020

This year started out like a big bad dream. The pandemic has lasted longer than many had anticipated. Many who looked forward to taking the next steps in their academic futures in the fall of 2020 waited in the balance for the government go-ahead to even go forward with their lifelong plans. At last, one by one, schools decided on their reopening procedures and put them into place but many wondered how this semester would become possible. Although there are many who were relieved that they would even be able to start or continue their college educations, there still seemed to be something missing. Unfortunately, the “College Experience” would be impossible to encounter with all the necessary restrictions on the social lives of students.

The college experience is unlike any other time in a young person’s life. In the usual circumstances, it is a time for one to experience things they have never experienced. Some live on their own for the first time and really learn who they are as an individual. First-time students usually think of the college experience as a chance to meet people and enjoy themselves outside of the classroom. But why is the word “college” in the phrase “college experience” if college is on the back burner of your real plans? Given the social distancing rules, many feel like their college experience is totally diminished. For example, in on-campus situations students are confined to their dorms and are left only to engage with their classes remotely or by themselves through online classes. The college comradery available is limited to those who you can see during class on a computer screen. YIKES!!

Those of us who were hoping for what little college experience that a community college could offer may feel a bit cheated in times like these. But honestly, I think it’s good to just be grateful that we can continue our educations at all! With so many things being cancelled, I think we are lucky to complete some of these courses we need while waiting for our social lives to be permitted again. I personally have found that I feel a little bit closer with the teachers I have engaged with remotely, knowing that we are all learning how to use tools like Zoom! Even though I am far away from campus, my GCC email receives all the upcoming events and contests, and participation is possible from the comfort of home. Tutoring and support are readily available at the click of a student success center button! And if you ever miss your Genesee Cougars stomping grounds, there’s always a 360-degree virtual tour at your fingertips! Just as I click on the main page the information available to me gets a bit overwhelming! The automatic slideshow of happenings seems to spin faster than I can read all of the information. The events calendar is not empty but full of scheduled virtual events taking place soon. It almost seems to me that the term “social distancing” deserves to be renamed “physical social distancing” as GCC’s social media can keep students just as engaged as they would be if they were on campus. Virtually meet students with great stories to tell, and see all upcoming events on the GCC Facebook page! How is a girl to be bored in times like these?

In conclusion, I think the “college experience” has evolved, whether we were planning on it or not. It has evolved for the betterment of those who really want to spend their college time learning. The focus of the 2020 college student has been aimed solely on education. Furthermore, there is a plethora of new activities being designed to keep students engaged in their down time. Don’t worry, all the rest that you feel you may be missing will return someday! By then, you will have your studies done!