OPINION: Is college worth the cost during COVID-19?

College is tough, no matter when someone begins the journey. Within the last year, COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the daily lives of everyone, including college students. Some of the hardships are things that one might think never could happen. Some even may find themselves beginning to wonder, “Is college worth it during these tough times?”

The answer honestly depends on the individual and his or her current mindset and goals. I, for example, have pondered this question since last semester. I wondered whether living away at school in campus housing or staying home to continue classes virtually would be better for my focus. 

I am a first-generation college student, which means that I am the first in my family to go to college to pursue a post-secondary education. If I lived at home, most of my family would not understand my telling them something like, “Sorry, I cannot help with this errand today because I have a huge midterm to study for.” So I decided to stay in my campus apartment. 

When thinking about the tremendous number of changes that have occurred because of COVID-19, I felt overwhelmed. Along with being a full-time student, I also work a part-time job. As most people may have realized last year, virtual or hybrid classes are not easier— the workload is the same, if not greater. I felt twice as overwhelmed trying to meet deadlines and study hard. 

One thing that I did appreciate was the fact that many professors at the University of Indianapolis have been very accommodating by extending deadlines and showing compassion for students during this tough time. When I thought a deadline could not be met, I emailed my professor in advance and let him or her know that I was trying my best, and my professor understood. 

Another thing that really bothered me was the increase in tuition. I do not believe that students should have to pay more during a time like this, when they are not even receiving the full, educational experience that they would normally. Typically, students would be in a community-oriented, classroom setting that would let them hang out in student lounges, use computer labs when needed, interact with each other, and meet face-to-face with professors. 

I believe that this is a very important aspect of student success because help always was available, whether from classmates or faculty members. No one is to blame for COVID-19, but I started to feel like there were more cons to being enrolled in the university than pros. 

However, one thing that has kept me motivated during COVID-19 is looking back over my years of tremendously hard work to get to where I am today. With very little guidance from anybody, I, a first-generation African American college student, am about to receive my bachelor’s degree in communication. I will be able to care for myself the way I need to and have a job that I am passionate about. When deciding whether school is right for you, consider what would happen if you gave up now. The year 2020 is something that I compare to an unexpected tragedy, but with great perseverance and the right mindset, we will be able to say that we worked through and graduated, despite some of the hardest times in recent history. As Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

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