Starting college during a pandemic

Starting college during a pandemic

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Ross, 18, a Jigsaw volunteer from Offaly, talks about starting college this year.

Like any young person, or any person at all in Ireland in 2020, it’s safe to say life has been anything but normal since March. Going from “schools are closed for two weeks”, to finding out that the culmination of 12 years of schoolwork, the Leaving Cert, was now cancelled, was an emotional rollercoaster.

The relief from finally getting a concrete answer gave room to thinking more about college and my concerns about third-level education in the world’s current state.


Cautious optimism

My general feeling towards college has always been one of excitement. Finally getting to study one thing that I’m passionate about, joining clubs and societies, and meeting like-minded people. All while having a freedom I haven’t experienced in secondary school.

But now, it has evolved into a feeling of cautious optimism. “Plan for the worst but hope for the best”, is a mantra that is serving many people well at the moment. And while I’m prepared to meet for lectures remotely and take notes from the comfort of my bedroom, I’m still hoping to get something similar to the standard “college experience”.

Choices to make

I think for any young person, the prospect of spreading your wings and flying the coop is the most exciting aspect of college, especially for someone leaving rural Offaly for one of the major cities.

This feeling has certainly been stymied by questions of whether to stay home and commute, or to find accommodation, but run the risk of only having in-person classes once or twice a week. To me this is the dilemma that underpins all concerns regarding college life.

Ross, 18 volunteer in Offaly

Light at the end of the tunnel

Personally, what has helped me with this concern is to try look past my first year in college. I know it’s extremely clichéd, but realising that these restrictions will pass, and eventually I’ll get my chance at the college life, is a much needed “light at the end of the tunnel”.

I think everyone has been either searching for, or holding on to a hope like this during these times. And discussing these hopes and concerns with my fellow students, my parents, other relatives, and even people I meet walking through the village, makes everything feel a little less all-consuming.

Times and situations like these really highlight the importance of just talking to people. Now more than ever, it’s safe to say whoever you talk to will be experiencing something similar

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