At 3:30 a.m., I arose from my bed after lying there for over an hour, not sleeping. Nights are sometimes hard for me. I go to bed and my mind refuses to shut down. Or, it shuts down for a short time and then ramps back up again as bothersome issues rise to the surface in times of lighter sleep.
Much of what is bothering me now are things that are out of my control. This, I know. But, it doesn’t stop me from worrying and wondering about the future. Although I am trying to remain grateful for the blessings we have during this crazy, upside-down time called the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are days (and nights) when it is hard to not become unglued by the “what if’s” we all are facing.
As usual, educational systems are at the forefront of my mind. Years are spent preparing our students for life after high school. You want them to be excited about their choices – where they are going to school or work and what they choose to study or do that leads to an independent life filled with new people and opportunities. But, there is so much uncertainty now. Those well thought out choices, made six months ago or more recently, are being second-guessed. Classes that once were enjoyed with the camaraderie of friends and caring teachers are now impersonal and distant. It is not the content that is lacking but the human factor. And, this is while many (teachers, students, and families) are still trying their best to cope with the changes.
Student motivation is suffering, not only because of the swift change in educational circumstance but the glaring uncertainty of the future. Even those students, such as mine, who plan to go to college are wondering – will it happen? Will universities open their doors in the fall? Already, there is so much about this process that is different. Campus and class orientations, typically taking place during the summer are now going to be online. Placement tests have been scheduled and rescheduled, and now reformatted and rescheduled for the third time for my student. AP tests have been reformated, rescheduled, and relocated into our homes. All this takes extra effort for everyone involved – the students, the families of the students, the universities, and the communities which welcome the students each fall. It’s been a tradition – for a couple of centuries in some cases. And, now? There is uncertainty.
I am not sure for whom I feel the most – the parents of students, such as myself with prior experience who know “how it should be” in the six months leading up to leaving for college because a sibling or two has already gone. Or, those families whose oldest is now a senior getting ready to depart into a future that is on shaky footing, not caused by their own doing. To wonder is mentally exhausting for everyone!
I am a realist and a pragmatist. I also, if you believe in astrological traits, always look at things from all angles. I hope all 2020 graduates can fulfill their dreams. I hope colleges open in the fall. I hope jobs are available for those entering the workforce. I hope the numbers of infected with COVID-19 start to diminish. But, I also realize these hopes might be optimistic. There are still a lot of excited seniors out there. I think that is fine. Those posts with the shining smiles extolling accomplishments are starting to get to me. I know the students are deserving. But, how often do kids now days not get what they want? Not often.
It’s right about now that the pragmatist in me sends up a warning flag. “What if?” shouts loudly in my head!
Is there a plan B?
We just might need it.
Mind you, these are all middle of the night musings that are magnified in the surrounding darkness. My head tells me it will all be okay, my heart is not so sure.
I read somewhere this week that the first 90 days of the college experience are the most critical. If colleges open this fall, as they have for many years in the past, in the very least, the first 90 days will be different for students than any who have ventured into higher education before them.
Yes, it is a rare and uncertain time.
Those words fed my insomnia last night and now you know why.
I acknowledge that this post deals with what some might consider insignificant worries as there are larger issues such as food insecurity, educational inequities, and the continuing risk of infection with the virus. My post concerns one small issue in a world of larger ones. Please do not assume I am insensitive to those other issues.