In a few days, my son returns to the University of Miami. It’s a perilous time for all students, but especially for college kids. Especially college kids in Miami, Florida, where COVID rates are high, Everything has changed on college campuses these days and a lot of kids feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick. They have to test negative before they return to school. They need to wear masks everywhere and continually get their temperatures checked. Huge frat parties will be a thing of the past, and the college football season looks like it might be canceled. For a school that cost big bucks to attend, these are some tough apples to swallow.
As a former teacher, I feel for all the students and teachers that have to navigate this new educational world. I especially feel for college students. College is a time for self-exploration and freedom. For many, it is some of the best times in their lives. It’s a time for intellectual growth, parties, playing or attending sports and so much more. Many students meet their future husbands and wives at college. And you only get one shot at it, because once you graduate you can never return to that amazing time in your life. Ask Will Ferrell’s character in the movie, OLD SCHOOL.
Some may disagree with me, but it’s not natural for young people to be taught in front of a computer. Yes, University of Phoenix and others schools have made this learning style their model, but I feel that’s not the norm. Learning needs to be integrative and in-person, with a skilled instructor leading the intellectual process and encouraging input and open discussion. This is especially true in college, where students pay big money to be there and learn from experienced minds, often the best minds in their respective fields. As well, college is often the last step in the educational process that leads to employment.
So it begs the question of whether students should attend classes while the COVID still rages. It’s a question I can’t really answer. Harvard and Bowdoin obviously thought not, while my son’s college believed it was safe enough to hold classes, with restrictions. But even these decisions make one scratch their head. Miami now has some of the highest rates of COVID in the country. Brunswick, where Bowdoin College is located, has some of the lowest rates and yet the college is closing its doors to all but the freshman class. Not sure I get it, but that’s the reality.
As for my son, having been home since March, he is beyond ecstatic to return to school and see all his friends. He has two more years left and he’s done, graduated, and he wants to make the most of his college years. The campus is located in stunning Coral Gables and is an absolutely gorgeous setting for a young person. There are palm trees among the academic buildings, constant sunshine and a scenic lake that sits in the middle of it all. I think the Bubonic plague could be raging and he would still be prepared to return there.
I wish all you students and teachers a safe return to school. And let’s hope this crisis passes very soon and we can all get back to normal.