My Current Situation
As I sit here writing this article, I’m left wondering how exactly I got to this point. Right now, I should be packing my suitcase and getting ready to fly across the country to Alabama to start my senior year of college. Instead, I’m sitting on my couch in Arizona working on coming to terms with my decision to defer for the Fall 2020 semester.
Of all the things I imagined doing during my senior year of college, deferring was certainly not one of them. Before COVID-19, I had never even considered taking time off from school, let alone officially deferring for an entire semester. However, when COVID-19 became widespread in the U.S. in early 2020, many school systems all but collapsed. Teachers, students, parents, and schools all over the country were left searching for answers, completely unaware of what the future held.
Why I Deferred
During this time, every single class at my college was transferred online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. This move had an immensely negative effect on the academic success and mental well-being of many students I knew. It also left many teachers at my school struggling to find a way to transition their classes into an online format. Personally, I found myself struggling to make it through the rest of the semester after this change occurred. I absolutely love learning and have always enjoyed school, but with everything that was going on I just began to feel extremely unmotivated, tired, unfocused, and really frustrated with the overall situation. Many of my teachers had had no experience teaching an online class and many of the classes I was taking simply weren’t designed to be taught in an online format. As time went on, the communication between teachers and students got progressively worse and it became clear that neither side was properly prepared to handle the transition to online only classes.
After having to deal with the stress of taking online classes for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester, I knew that I never wanted to have a semester like that again. However, with COVID-19 continuing to become a bigger and bigger threat, no one knew what the future held. As time went on, all of my in-person Fall 2020 classes that I had registered for months ago had either been switched to online or hybrid classes. Given the current circumstances, that meant I would still have to pay the same out-of-state tuition rate as I did last year, even though all my classes had now been switched to some form of online learning. Before COVID-19 began, I had also signed up to live in on-campus housing and was assigned three strangers as my roommates. Since I had never personally met any of them, I became concerned about whether or not they would adhere to the recommended COVID-19 safety protocols which was worrisome because the COVID-19 case numbers in my college’s town had begun to rise dramatically. All of these issues combined led me to seriously consider deferring. After talking to my family and doing a lot of thinking, I made the decision to officially defer for the fall semester because I wanted to make sure that my last year of college was truly memorable and fun, not stressful and full of uncertainties.
The Positive Side of Deferring
Choosing to defer for the Fall 2020 semester was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. Due to my decision, not only will I now graduate six months to a year late, I’ll also have to watch all of my friends graduate before me. In all honesty, choosing to defer was absolutely terrifying and I waited until the last possible minute to make that choice because I was scared to deal with the repercussions. The thought of not returning to school, being stuck at home, postponing my graduation, and not seeing my friends for at least another six months made me very uneasy. I’m one of those people who is terrible at winging things and who likes to have everything planned out in advance, so willingly putting my future plans on hold for at least the next six months was unnerving to say the least. However, the longer I’ve thought about it, the more I have come to view my upcoming time away from school as an opportunity instead of a loss.
Instead of viewing it as something you’re missing out on, try to view a deferral as extra free time you have been given to improve yourself, gain experience, and do things you enjoy. Regarding my personal situation, thanks to my deferral I now have the time to get a full-time job and save up some money to help pay off my student loans. I also get the opportunity to spend a lot more time with my family which I normally don’t get to do because I go to college out-of-state and don’t get to come home often. This time is really meaningful to me because my mother has been a breast cancer patient for the last year so any extra time I get to spend with her is really special to me.
For me personally, deferring was the right thing to do but overall it is a very personal decision to make so do what feels right for you and talk to a college advisor if you have any questions. Whether it be going back to school or taking some time off, just remember to take care of yourself and do whatever is best for you personally.
Ways to Make the Most of a Deferred Semester:
> Get an in-person or remote internship, part-time job, full-time job, co-op, or gain other work experience.
> Learn a new language. Being multilingual not only has various practical applications but can also be a great way to stand out on a resume.
> Learn a new skill such as Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, Photography, WordPress, etc.
> Create or update your resume, LinkedIn account, personal website, social media, etc.
> Practice interview skills, create an elevator pitch, and research any companies you may potentially want to work for in the future.
> Spend time with your family and video chat with your friends.
> Find a new hobby or try doing something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for (i.e. learn magic, pick up an instrument, become a yoga expert, practice your cooking skills, etc.).
> Try to work on becoming healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally.