I know I’m still learning, but is it enough?

The irreversible effects COVID-19 has on my education

Nicole McIsaac, Copy Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered millions of lives throughout the course of 2020, and many are just praying for it to finally be over. However, will the pandemic’s effects ever diminish?

Connor Lawless

As a college student submerged in school work and extracurricular responsibilities on campus, I have to ask myself two questions: how has this pandemic affected my overall education and will it pose a threat to my future endeavors as I go into the professional world? 

I know many other students have this worry burning in the back of their minds as well, whether they’re a blossoming freshman or have graduation on the horizon. Are we going to be the same professionals and hold the same skill sets compared to the experts who completed their education without having experienced a pandemic? 

An Arizona State University study put these concerns into perspective by revealing how COVID-19 has troubled college students. The survey noted that 13% of students had their graduation dates delayed and 40% lost internships, pre-assigned jobs and position offers. Roughly one-third of the students also said they were expecting to earn less in their careers by the age of 35 than they previously anticipated before the pandemic.

It is important to note that also entering the workforce in a suffering economy with mountains of college loans to pay back doesn’t aid the situation in any shape or form.

Historically speaking, young workers have always faced major disadvantages when launching their careers during weaker economies, but according to the Economic Policy Institute, “they have been even more negatively affected by the current recession.”  

On top of all of that, the quality of schooling is not the same with the evaporation of face-to-face and hands-on instruction. Although Quinnipiac University has presented its students with a hybrid learning format, there is still a piece of education that isn’t there, and I am afraid it can’t be remedied. 

Given that the U.S. has taken the pandemic seriously since March and there is still no vaccine, the terrors of COVID-19 will continue to wreak havoc on society and the educational system until scientists find a solution to curb this catastrophe. According to Science Alert, even if the virus is deemed no longer an immediate pandemic-level threat, “… the coronavirus will likely become endemic — meaning slow, sustained transmission will persist. The coronavirus will continue to cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu,” — ultimately disrupting the remainder of my college experience and the beginning of my career as a professional journalist.

Personally speaking, I am already experiencing the side effects that this virus possesses on my coursework. When the university’s campus shut down during last spring semester, I was enrolled in several multimedia journalism and beginner camera-use classes. This transition completely hindered my ability to learn the information that is essential for building the foundational skills that are needed in the realm of broadcast journalism.

Where did that leave me? In my bedroom with a makeshift tripod built from stacks of textbooks, AirPods as the only audio source and a cell phone in replacement of a professional camera.

This transition ultimately granted students a unique learning experience, but I can’t help to point out how it completely changed the structure of the original education that I had planned for. Adjusting to yet another year of my college career, I am steps behind where I should be while learning material that I should already know.   

With Quinnipiac seeing exponential growth in COVID-19 cases (a whopping 115 new cases in a two-day window last week to be exact), education is again becoming even more of a challenge. As a student journalist, I am putting my health and safety at risk every day just to provide my local community with the latest news. Can you guess where this has led me? 

Again back at home, in my bedroom with a makeshift tripod built from stacks of textbooks, AirPods as the only audio source and a cell phone in replacement of a professional camera. In an instant, my fall 2020 semester resembled my spring 2020 semester.

Although I did not test positive, I was exposed to someone who unfortunately did. Of course, the physical well-being of myself and the other students who were involved is my first and foremost concern. But I can’t help thinking of my education. 

Since I was contact traced on Oct. 30, I have attended all my classes remotely and couldn’t be present at any of the in-person experiences that my student organizations have. In that short span of time, the school was forced into a red campus alert state, which meant that practically everything was to go on lockdown and be fully virtual due to the positive cases skyrocketing out of the university’s control. Now, I am at a crossroads deciding between my health or my education and questioning if it’s even worth going back to campus for the last two weeks of the semester. 

See a pattern yet? Once again, I am disadvantaged in my educational experience just as I was months ago and it’s simply out of my control.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a monkey wrench in the educational experiences of all students. No matter how schools like Quinnipiac attempt to muster a fulfilling semester for its students, the learning that takes place may not be enough to make up for the time lost in a normal school year. I know we’re still learning, but is it enough?