Learning with Lex: Beginning College During a Pandemic.

By Lexi McKinney | June 10, 2024 | Feature Writers

For context, I write to share my life as a senior in college, ready to pursue a career in Journalism and Media Studies with a Specialty in Broadcasting and a minor in Communication. The last few years have been a rollercoaster for me as I balance a job in advertising and sales, my last few semesters of college, and my favorite part (being an intern) while reflecting on how I got this far when a pandemic shifted the direction of my education in the blink of an eye.

Where do I even begin? First and foremost, I remember sitting in my AP Psychology class, eavesdropping on the students around me, discussing a virus that could take the world by surprise. I refrained from reading between the lines because senior year of high school trumped any barrier that tried to get in my way. Hearing of this Coronavirus meant shutdowns, political quarrels, and uncertainty. Only a few weeks later, the world would feel like a never-ending episode of House – chaotic, messy, and complicated except this episode lasted way longer than 60 minutes.

I woke up to text messages flooding my phone explaining that senior year of high school was ending almost immediately, and with that news, college was awaiting me. The uncertainty ate at me daily as I waited to log onto Zoom meetings to start my first year. I expected college to be a mix of going out and about, meeting new friends, and being in a classroom, learning from hands-on experiences. This was the furthest thing from my reality.

My routine seemed more of a daily chore than anything else. Professors who specialized in lectures at the university began to adapt while sharing their knowledge through long PowerPoint presentations, and at least three students per class complained that the Zoom meeting was lagging. Many of my assignments were pass/fail because they could not flunk you for not understanding all materials when trying to figure out how to survive when the world was flipped upside down was a top priority.

This first semester felt like I was teaching myself how to learn all over again because navigating through a computer screen and attempting to lock down my laptop to take exams was just strange. I completed lectures back-to-back in my bedroom four to five days a week and somehow managed to move forward against the odds. At the time, I had patience because there was no social sphere anymore. In lecture, I dreamed of going out for a car ride even if it was only to pick up groceries, because it felt normal again.

The biggest challenge during this time was not the materials for me. Passing a Sociology class or writing three papers for an English course was the easy component. It was the uncertainty of how I was supposed to work, devise a plan to land a role for a competitive internship, compose a solid resume, and graduate on time because nearly all students lost motivation when it came to finishing a college degree remotely.

I remember completing the first year of college hanging on by a thread. I was tired and so driven to be successful there was no time to worry about anything else. The months blurred together, the seasons were just reminders of deadlines, and patience thinned after the numerous attempts to be in a classroom again. While the career I chose is flexible, I struggled to understand if college would ever be the experience I dreamed of.

As I sit here today, I remind myself how many times I assumed that I would not pass a test, get an A in a class, or accomplish the goals I had from a young age. It felt like the longest mile, but if I did quit, there’s no telling where I would be now. What is beautiful about perseverance is seeing yourself outgrow old obstacles, which motivates you to want more. While this is a condensed version of what seemed like a million years, in my next article, I plan to explore my own experiences while learning in general during a pandemic. On a deeper note, I will explore the raw and honest memories of the classes I was required to take while sharing if the college experience was worth all the investments.