After a year and a half of Covid19-altered education, we might ask, are our seniors ready for the next chapter? My students may have an advantage in attending all but 2 weeks in person during the 2020-2021 school year. However, compared with previous graduating classes, there are some significant differences. Schedules were shortened to provide proper social distancing and to reduce student stress. The downside was that teachers had less time to cover all of their content. Even with this compacted schedule, student learning and engagement seem higher than during the 2020 spring shutdown when only distance learning happened.
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
We should embrace what the challenge of the pandemic has created in our students. Their struggles and experiences are unique. Many new solutions will result from this challenging point in history. The “2020 Top 10 Innovations” includes incredible advances in science and medicine. Of course, the pandemic creates incredible growth in educational technology, which students experienced first hand. And then we think of how the pandemic will shape all types of things in the future. For example, in the creative sphere, The Telegraph declares, “The pandemic will revolutionise the way we dress – just like it did after the world wars.” It notes that after World War I:
“[Coco Chanel] retreated into deep mourning. This was a time when a multitude of other women were grieving…the First World War; and the world was still reeling from the subsequent shock of a flu virus that killed many millions more. In time, Chanel recovered her creative strength and emerged with an icon: the little black dress, which turned the traditional colour of bereavement into a symbol of female independence.”
Are Students Ready? Ask Them!
When I asked if the seniors at my school were ready for college, they answered an overwhelming “no” to this question. When asked why, their responses included:
- I didn’t get to visit my college.
- The shutdown caused me to develop poor motivation and bad sleep habits.
- My teachers were not consistent in their delivery online.
- I became a germophobe.
- I liked that the technology provided flexibility in the schedule, but I fear things will be rigid again in college.
In the end, students expressed hope for a safe in-person college experience. They want to hang out in the commons room and participate in traditional student life activities. All of these reflective and, in some ways, mature responses make me think: they are, in fact, ready!
Harlan Cohen, a college transition educator, tells students to think about finding five people and three places at their college campus where they can find help and friendship. Let your seniors know the college librarian can be their friend. And let them know the college library can be one of their places. See the article “5 Reasons Why Your University Library Is Your Best Friend.” Urge seniors to visit their college library’s website and look for the library’s social media. For those who could not make a college visit, send them to You Visit. Their current slogan is “Find the right college for you; distance should not limit your college options.”
More Resources for Educators
For data on these topics, consult the Annenberg Institute at Brown University working papers on Covid-19 Education Research for Recovery.
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.