College students also feel the loss of school closures due to COVID-19

Julianna Martinez, Staff Reporter

While nearly all primary schools and high schools across the country shuttered their doors for the remainder of the academic year at the dawn of the COVID-19 threat, the nation turned a watchful eye to the hundreds of thousands students, teachers, and families scrambling to transition to a remote version of the remainder of their academic calendar. Parents rue their new role as a home school teacher while high school seniors mourn the loss of such important milestones as prom and graduation.

Somewhat forgotten, though, are the college students who were also forced off their campuses–mostly back to their parents’ homes–and had to finish the year with a virtual curriculum. Although they should be considered adults and generally able to care for themselves, the circumstances have cut short vital occasions that could help secure a degree–or even a career for those finishing up their final semester. As a result, they are now facing a future that leads into an economic depression and a rate of unemployment that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression

In 2017 Brittany Anderson graduated from Bishop Noll as a three sport athlete and continued to play two of those three sports at Valparaiso University. Britney Anderson is currently a junior at Valparaiso University where she plays volleyball and softball. But due to COVID-19, her softball season was cut short.

“Even though my 2020 softball season is cancelled, I am looking forward to the potential my team might have  due to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes,” she said.Since there is much uncertainty of when there will be a cure for COVID-19 many schools are uncertain of when school will start again and when students are able to participate in sports again. “As of right now, we have not been informed on future plans. And athletes’ future plans are still up in the air.”

Since the first college closures began in March, 4,234 institutions of higher education in this country have closed, according to The Entangled Group. Over 25 million college students have been affected by the school closures. However, the majority of colleges and universities are  continuing the remainder of the school online, virtually assigning assignments, tests and some are even doing finals online. At Valparaiso University, Anderson, who is a sports management major with a business administration minor, is completing her classes online.

“I plan to graduate, a semester early after this fall. I will continue playing softball as a grad student, as I will start the Sports Administration grad program at Valparaiso,” she said.

First year college students had a rude awakening when nearly half of their school year on campus was taken away. BNI 2019 alum Julianne Hoff is a freshman at St. Augustine and is also a part of their track team but was unable to finish her first season as a college athlete.

“Not being able to finish the rest of the track season is disappointing. At first it wasn’t a big deal, but then I realized the hard work I had been putting in to build up my strength wasn’t able to be seen in a meet. Especially since outdoor season was going to be the time for me to compete in triple jump which is a little sad, but my first college track season was still memorable.”

COVID-19 has forced her season to end a bit earlier than expected. Even though school is cancelled, she still has to take classes virtually.

“Having classes online hasn’t been a problem for me, but COVID-19 did cancel a lot of plans and events that were supposed to happen. I decided to pledge a sorority and everything was cut short which sucks, but aside from that I have been making the most of it,” Hoff said.

For 2019 grad Savannah O’Neill, a freshman at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, losing her track season was the worst part of the school closure. However, the shot put thrower is still training at home in preparation for next season.

“My coach, both head coach and throws coach, know that it is probably a hard time for us to have the facilities to actually train and lift. My throwing coach has especially told us that we can do what we can while we are separated, and once we get back together again, we can hopefully be back to our full potential,” she said.

O’Neil said she felt as if she was robbed because she couldn’t finish the rest of her season. “ I was severely disappointed when I found out that I would not be able to finish the rest of my freshman season. I worked tirelessly for outdoor season and I felt almost hurt when my season was canceled,” she said.