Juniors’ future uncertain in the face of COVID-19

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Jay Tipirneni, Editor-in-Chief

Less than a month ago that I was preparing to publish an issue for my school newspaper. One story in the issue was about the COVID-19 virus, its global status, and its health impact. Our issue had arrived in print a few days following the closure of the campus. My intuition would reassure me that this virus would be contained and become a faint memory within a month. Clearly, that has not been the path of this now destructive global phenomenon.

While many empathize with the loss of prom, graduation, and other year-end activities for seniors, as a junior in high school, my hopes, and goals for this academic year were simple enough and well within reach. I had to receive good grades, recommendation letters, standardized test scores, visit colleges, indulge in extracurriculars, and simply enjoy life. Those hopes quickly splintered as COVID-19 infiltrated the news cycle and our daily lives at an overwhelming rate.

With little notice, life went from strict and productive learning environments, to hastily prepared Zoom calls and assigned busywork. Nonetheless, our educators are putting in their best effort to rework an entire year’s worth of curriculum to accommodate our scholastic needs. A job that is made even more complicated when considering postponed grading periods and the hindrance of the coronavirus, occurring when many upperclassmen are preparing for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate testing in upcoming months. 

However, high school students, in particular, become increasingly uncertain about the future as this virus takes its toll on education infrastructure. Online school, the current substitute for in-classroom learning, is considered to be less effective and difficult to adapt to for many students. The result has amounted to lowered motivation and productivity for students, causing education to suffer. 

“School life is a very confusing and organized mess. My experience currently is dismal in regards to schoolwork because there’s a lack of communication between the staff and also an abundance of busywork as an absence of having a teacher there,” said junior Daniel Delgado. “It’s impacted my learning by leaving me lost and confused whether or not I truly understand what I’m trying to teach myself.” 

Paired with social distancing protocols and minimal teacher presence, student motivation can be hindered even further, placing a greater strain on student learning. These hindrances accumulate and cause students to fall behind on vital assignments that can help prepare them for upcoming exams.

“School really motivated me because I know that I had a due date on every assignment and that if I didn’t do it then I would face consequences from teachers straight in person,” said junior Alexia Ambriz. “But now I feel like I’m starting to lag on my schoolwork and I feel like that’s making me more anxious about what’s going to happen to me continuing distance learning.”

This pandemic has also draped upon us a blanket of uncertainty when it comes to college admissions. College applications, which must be started within four to five months for juniors, force us into a perpetually tumultuous state. We have insufficient knowledge of how they will be handled by universities and how the various changes to our curriculum through online learning will impact admissions. A commonly voiced concern is that our preexisting knowledge of admissions will be invalidated by the possible changes to college admissions, one of which being the lifted requirement for SAT and ACT standardized tests by UC’s along with a handful of private universities. This major shift in admissions is causing a convoluted mix of distress and uncertainty for students.

“This [change] is one hundred percent going to affect my chances of getting into the colleges that I want to go to, and, I think more negatively,” said junior Seann Brick. “Because I studied for months for this SAT, I even took tutoring classes. I was taking PSATs too, for a solid two months. And I was relying on the SATs to make up for my lack of extracurriculars and past that, now all I have to represent me is my GPA and my lackluster clubs.”

This has further exacerbated the many anxieties that we hold despite the efforts to alleviate it. The surmounting concerns of college admissions, online school, and social distancing protocols, has intensified the uncertainty of the future. For many as well, school is a place where attention migrates away from the difficulties of traditional life, and because of its absence, it is taking its toll on students.

“School is kind of a distraction for me. So being at home all the time, with parents working, I was alone for a lot of it, and it was pretty stressful,” said junior Laisha Palafox. “You get so used to seeing all these people that you like being with and being broken out of that habit definitely made it hard.”

With an unprecedented global event infringing upon us all, we seem to disregard the perspectives of our youth and especially of our students. 

Just as education can mold the future, when threatened, we can be crushed by it.