COVID-19 has pretty much been the only thing on everyone’s minds since the end of February and has affected millions of people around the world. For both undergrad and grad students, particularly those who are graduating this year, the Coronavirus has taken away their final weeks on the campus they’ve called home for the past four years and the well-deserved graduation ceremony that they’ve been counting down the days for since freshman year. We recently interviewed Ella Brownson, a senior from Franklin Pierce University, and talked about what it was like for her to finish her last semester of college online, her plans for graduate school and some words of encouragement for those who are in similar circumstances.
If you’re a college senior and had to rearrange your grad school plans because of the Coronavirus, it may not be that easy to “look on the bright side,” as they say. However, Brownson’s response to how the Pandemic has changed her plans to go to medical school is one that may come as a comfort. Brownson said that she thinks of this time as an opportunity to take the gap year between graduation and grad school she always wanted to take. She adds that this time has alleviated “the added pressure of trying to enroll in medical school this fall.” Even if you weren’t planning on taking a gap year or are still planning on applying to grad school in the Fall, you can use this pause and the extended testing dates or application deadlines as a chance to catch your breath and, at the very least, take a moment to just stop and be proud of what you’ve already accomplished. Obviously, nothing can make up for having to graduate and celebrate your hard work and dedication through a Zoom call, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to use this time to your advantage.
Brownson was also asked about her experience with virtual learning and if she thought people might choose Zoom classes over being on campus, to which she said, “I would not change living on campus for the world,” an answer anyone who has lived on campus would agree with. Brownson went on to explain that being on campus provides “a real sense of community.” This time in our homes has shown that even if we are capable of doing most things at home, being a part of a community and making new memories with people is really why we choose not to work, learn, or even work out, at home.
It’s completely understandable to be wary of applying to grad school right now, whether your reservations are because you don’t feel safe being on campus this Fall, or because you are worried that a second COVID wave may lead to another virtual classroom adjustment. Either way, as Brownson expresses, administrators, advisors, professors and deans are all doing everything they can to make sure students are getting the same quality of education and the support and guidance they need. The biggest take away from Brownson’s interview is that this time may not be what you envisioned senior year to look like, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put everything you were working toward on hold.