Photo credits: “Laptop” (CC BY 2.0) by AUMOER
As we’ve all experienced our college careers with a global pandemic, there’s one specific class that I feel really missed out on closing their chapter’s properly. Of course, we all made the most of what we could with this unpredictable pandemic, but last year’s graduating class of Spring 2021 were definitely thrown for a whirlwind of uncertainty.
In this feature, I interviewed West Chester University Alumni, Casey Benedict. Casey graduated in Spring of 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. She experienced her final year here at West Chester University completely virtual and gives some insight on what she would share with current students getting to have that in-person experience she missed out on.
How do you feel COVID-19 impacted your college career? Was it at all positive for you? How did the years prior compare to your senior year being completely virtual?
Casey: It was definitely more negative for me. Education wise, I felt like I truly wasn’t learning anything. I was just going through the motions, not even getting out of bed to log onto Zoom, and caught myself constantly dozing off. Most of my quizzes/exams were open book/open notes for obvious reasons so most of the information I was being taught went in through one ear and right out of the other. Then, of course, there was the social aspect. I feel as though I was truly ripped off with a whole year and a half of my college career. The time that should have been spent making memories was spent either at home in Scranton, or in my bedroom at school. In general, compared to every other year, my grades didn’t really change. However, like I said, I don’t think I was really learning during COVID. My social life obviously changed, and that was hard to get used to. Being in a sorority, I was always out and about with different events and things to go to. I feel like with not having any of that, I almost didn’t have closure with my senior year.
How did COVID-19 impact your graduation? Do you feel it was as significant as it could have been?
Casey: I actually enjoyed how COVID affected graduation because we were still able to have a ceremony outside, but I believe it was cut down in size so there [weren’t] as many names to be read off. Which made it quick, easy, but still special! The lack of experiences at the end of my college career definitely did not take away from all my hard work and accomplishments that were recognized at my commencement.
Do you feel prepared for the real world post-graduation? Was that last year as effective as it could have been for you?
Casey: I am definitely not ready for the real world. I was so accustomed to sitting home all day on Zoom that being expected to get out of the house and work a full-time job all of a sudden for the rest of my life was kind of like a shell shock. I also still don’t believe I had closure with my college experience so it’s hard to see all of my younger friends now enjoying it again, when I missed out the last year and a half.
If there’s one thing you could tell a current student at WCU about your time here during a global pandemic, what would it be?
Casey: If I had to say anything I’d say, I know college can get stressful and old at times, but enjoy your time at West Chester while you still can. I unfortunately missed out on a year and a half of that experience, and you truly don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone! It truly is the best time of your life. Make the most of it as you can all while staying safe.
Yasmin Schepis is a fourth-year English B.A Major with minors in Journalism and Literature & Diverse Cultures.