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A college student’s perspective on the impact of COVID-19

Madalynn Wilson
Butler Community College student Madalynn Wilson (right), now home for spring break in Pratt, is a dance major. With her courses now going online for the rest of the semester, she wonders how real-time instruction can be replaced by online options and still meet her educational needs. She was joined by her mother, Krista Wilson, and brother, Taye Wilson, after a dance recital last semester. [courtesy photo)

As a college student, this COVID-19 outbreak has completely shifted my day-to-day life, as it has for most everyone. This pandemic cut my freshman year short. All the students at my college (Butler Community College) were told to move out of the dorms by Friday, March 20 and all our classes would be moved online.

This was especially bad news for me as a dance major as I have no idea how my teachers for my five dance classes will move them to an online format. It’s much harder for a dance teacher to teach when they’re not right in front of you, able to correct your form and teach you the dances in real-time. I’m especially sad about not being able to perform at our end of the year dance showcase since performing is one of the reasons I’m majoring in dance.

Another negative of this outbreak is the job market. I’m planning on transferring to a school in Wichita this fall and I’m renting a house there starting next month. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to pay for it now that I might lose my job I have in Pratt and it’ll be almost impossible to get a job in Wichita. I have money saved up, but that won’t be enough for me to live off of if I’m not able to work within the next few months.

However, I do recognize how lucky I am to be in the position I am. I was able to pretty easily drive up to my college to move out of my dorm. I have a place to put all of my stuff and a bed to sleep in at night. There are many college students who were not in as good of a position as me when their college told them to pack up and leave. There are international students who are not able to fly back to their home countries. There are poor students who went to college far away and can’t afford to just pack up and fly home. There are homeless students who lived at their college full time and don’t have anywhere else to go.

Although this is a really tough situation and I’m really upset that my freshman year was cut short, I’m still grateful that I’m in a situation that allows me to move out quickly and still have somewhere to live and stay safe during this time. I also feel like my college has handled the situation very well. They are making sure that everyone has a place to live after they move out of the dorms and that there are exceptions for students who don’t. However, the “off-campus” college apartments, that are not technically controlled by the college but where many of their students live, won’t let students out of their leases. So if my friend who lives there loses her job, she won’t be able to afford rent these next two months.

Since we have no idea how long this pandemic will last, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now. For me, for other college students, and everyone else in the world. Right now, I’m trying to take it one step at a time, wash my hands, social distance as much as possible, and stay healthy.