College Blues

As the 2020-21 school year dawns, with the United States mired in the global COVID-19 health emergency with no signs of abating, given vaccines or treatment protocols have yet to materialize, university administrators are scrambling to effectively respond, if even possible, in an increasingly political environment. In the heat of the epic man versus nature battle for dominance, what is being fundamentally altered is the American residential college experience, indelibly impacting a generation in the process.

The College Crisis Initiative@Davidson College, August 15, 2020

20-something students yearning for a typical, coming-of-age-living-away-from-my-parents college experience, have circumvented university adminstratrors by leasing private residences near campuses. One group of students beyond the watchful eyes of parents, especially having been sequestered for months in their childhood homes, socialize freely, maybe in the eyes of their neighbors too freely, at a time when COVID-19 is wrecking the lives of many in the community where students temporarily reside.

A second group of students, also choosing to live near their campuses, yet willing to comply with health and safety mandates, are often angry that their peers are flouting the rules, creating an unease amongst students who are living in the community surrounding the university which is neither fully opened nor closed.

Thirdly, are students who despite wanting to live away from home, chose not to lease a private residence, after their colleges restricted on-campus residency. Instead, they attend virtual college from the seclusion of their childhood bedroom. They swallow the bitter pill of unmet expectations— born from the notion planted in their heads in the early days of their schooling that if they followed the rules freedom would be obtained—and prayed for a return to a normalacy before their youth passes them by.

Lastly, are the students who aren’t willing to settle for a diminished college experience, instead choosing to defer their enrollment in college for a year or a semester, placing their life “on hold”. They’re hoping that the wizards of science will vanquish COVID-19 with their vaccine elixir and universities will be restored to their pre-pandemic glory, and they will once again be able to commence with their idyllic Pax Americana residential college life.

This fall, the sundry groups of students will not coalesce in commisseration, as well as in joy from constructing a career during the week, while on weekends emoting their stress in feverish cries from the stands of the stadium urging their team onward to victory over a rival foe, then post-game, celebrating their coming of age amongst friends. Instead, they will hunker down, factionalized, a unified university whole in name-brand only.

We’ll leave you with Leadbelly, who sums up the mood of college students around nation.

For more information about how to navigate the complex 2020-21 school year, check out Creative Marbles Consultancy to understand how our experts assist families.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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