I entered college in the fall of 2019, with all the hopes and dreams of a young girl from a small town entering a dream school in a big city.
I entered college in the fall of 2019, with all the hopes and dreams of a young girl from a small town entering a dream school in a big city. I made incredible friends, explored new places, tried new foods, and found time to study somewhere in between. Until March of 2020 hit, and well… you know. The idyllic glass castle of freshman year shattered.
Fast forward to today. I’ll be graduating in December of 2022 and will have earned my degree without ever having had a full year of being in-person on my college campus. My freshman year was cut off in March of 2020. My sophomore year was entirely online. The fall of my junior year was in-person, but we had two weeks of remote work at the outset of the spring semester. I’ll be finishing college in December. And that’s it. 3.5 years, and almost half of it done from the desk of my childhood room, two-thousand five hundred and seventy-three miles away from campus.
People pity the class of 2022 and 2023, saying that we never had the “full college experience,” as if we’ll be missing some vital part of our young adult lives. And perhaps there’s a part of that statement that might be true. However, I also believe it’s granted myself and my classmates a unique skill set that will last a lifetime—and be incredibly useful in today's ever-changing work environment and economy. Here are a few of those skills:
We know how to pivot quickly and adapt to new situations and circumstances. This past fall—while being completely in-person and on-campus–came with many ups and downs. Covid cases weren’t nonexistent on campus, and there were some weeks when class would be canceled 20 minutes before it began. But there’d be no chaos or panicking. Instead of walking 10 minutes to my classroom, I’d walk 10 minutes to the library or the student coffee shop, pop open my laptop, and class would resume as if nothing changed.
Covid testing is now required twice a week? Of course! New mask policies set in place? Sure thing. The dining halls are closed for a week and robots will be delivering our meals? Sounds great!
Every curveball that is thrown at us, we’ve learned to take it in stride, adapt quickly, and let it not actively disrupt our purpose and goals for each day.
We are able to efficiently execute quality work across all in-person and remote platforms. I and my fellow classmates learned Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and our school’s academic platform, Brightspace, in the blink of an eye, moving on to even assist our professors and advisors on how to best utilize the platforms for their and our advantage. We’re fluent in classroom learning on these technological platforms, but we’re also fluent in classroom learning in-person as well. I know how to effectively collaborate with a group on term-long projects in study rooms, Zoom breakout rooms, and a combination of both. We’ve learned how to measure tasks and decide which ones would be more valuable to work on in-person, or which ones would best be discussed while sharing a screen on a video call.
We’ve learned how to create our own hybridized systems of learning and working to maximize our efficiency on campus, which will surely translate into any future careers we may also have.
We’ve built up incredible emotional resilience. When my school announced that we’d have two weeks of remote classes in the spring of 2022, I remember feeling heartbroken and scared. Would these two weeks of remote learning be eternally extended, like in March of 2020? Thankfully, it was not, but the possibility of closure would always be there. Through it all, I remember thinking in the back of my mind, We’ve done that before. We can do it again. We know what it’s like to have the rug pulled from under us, our routines disrupted. We now know how to plan accordingly, quickly develop and find new routines, and shape our days in the small spaces of our rooms or dorms. We know how to pay attention in meetings and classes that feel like they’ll never end. I’m not naive enough to say that we’ve seen it all, but we sure have seen and felt a LOT these past two years,
Instead of dwelling on and grieving what we cannot do, we focus on what we can do. This applies to college and beyond. This is what’s going to shine on our resumes and job applications post-graduation. This is what makes the classes of 2022 and 2023 unique, strong, and resilient.
WRITTEN BY Gwyneth Bechunas Loyola Marymount University
Gwyneth Bechunas is a rising senior at Loyola Marymount University, graduating in December of 2022 with a major in screenwriting and a minor in business administration. She is very excited to turn a lifelong love for reading into a career in the publishing industry and is always eager to talk books with anyone and everyone. Gwyneth is currently an intern with the Macmillan Trade Field Sales division in the Independent Bookstore Channel.