Commentary: With Life Altered, We Learn to Live a New Normal

At the start of the 2020 spring semester, the only thing I was thinking about was the culmination of my undergraduate academic career, my graduation.

Unbeknownst to me and millions of other U.S. citizens, a major shift in our lives was on its way in the form of a virus named COVID-19. This virus would spread rapidly and became a worldwide pandemic. Entire countries were shut down and quarantined, borders were closed and classes were cancelled. The whole world seemed to come to a sudden halt.

With this being my last semester as an undergraduate, I worried about how colleges would react considering the amount of money they require from students to even begin a college career. Midway through March, around the start of spring break, West Virginia State University decided to transition from in-person to online classes because of the quarantine by the state of West Virginia.

The transition has not been easy. Professors were forced to translate curriculums into new formats, and students were forced to adapt to new learning styles. For a graduating senior who struggles with online learning, this adaptation has been particularly difficult.

This new reality not only affected classes but left students unable to return to campus after spring break. Students in spring sports missed out on their seasons. Students without current job prospects were unable to meet with advisors about possible internships, and graduating seniors were left unable to walk across the stage to receive their degrees in May.

These changes have been demoralizing to say the least. The “finish line” a graduation would have represented for many students is as important as the actual finish line student athletes would have crossed had athletic seasons not been cancelled.

These changes have forced many seniors like me to look to the future instead of focusing on the present situation and everything they’ve lost. We must learn to live the new normal so we can move closer to new goals.

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