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How the seniors of 2021 feel about applying to virtual graduate school 

By Veronica Kordmany 

Many college students have vocalized their outrage at having to pay thousands of dollars in tuition fees, when they attend classes remotely from the boundaries of their homes, rather than the classrooms that their money is being directed towards while others have expressed that their mental and physical healths’ have been jeopardized by the swift changes in lifestyle, citing that it’s all been too much to process at once. 

It’s no surprise that the education system has taken a massive hit since last year. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a year – one that many believed would revert back to normalcy sooner rather than later. But in the present day, March 2021, exactly a year since the pandemic hit, graduating seniors take on a new challenge: applying to graduate schools with the expectation that they will continue to follow a virtual format. 

As sad as it has been to come to terms with this, some have fared better than others, saying that they’ve adjusted by now and are used to it. The overarching commonality between all of these students is that they are nearing the end of virtual school while some are reverting to hybrid learning modes starting in Fall 2021, and others are wrapping up their final years of college. 

However, what about those who are starting graduate school for the first time? Some of the Senior Class of 2021, at Queens College, weighed in with their thoughts about embarking on the next chapters of their lives. 

Senior Jewish Studies major Alexander Kestenbaum is set on graduating in Fall 2021, but what awaits him isn’t as clear as it used to be. Currently, he is planning on applying to both the Harvard and Yale University Divinity Schools for the Fall 2022 semester. If life continues on the way it has been, he says, he may reconsider. 

“If graduate school will remain virtual, I’ve definitely thought about taking another year off,” Kestenbaum commented. “I’ve always wanted to explore more about my Polish heritage and even live in Poland, and the gap in between radiation and starting grad school might be the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Currently he has fared through virtual college even though there were some bumps along the way. “Attending college virtually has had its ups and downs,” said Kestenbaum. “Certainly, the comfort of learning from home and not worrying about transportation or waking up early has been a blessing. Additionally, the coursework has certainly lessened, and I’ve been able to take more classes than I normally would have.”

Kestenbaum also pointed out was the social detriment that the pandemic brought upon was “…not getting to meet new people or make connections with professors, a hallmark of the college experience, has been detrimental to my social wellbeing.”

In the same boat is senior, English and political science double-major and health sciences minor, Aviva Shamian, who shared that, “Attending college virtually has been a completely different world for me.”

“Yes, I got much more studying done by using my commuting time to study, but it’s not the same as meeting up with friends and going to the third floor of the library and studying together.” 

On the bright side, Shamian is ready to embark on the next journey of her life, which is graduate school. Currently, she is applying to several sonography programs, and is set on one day joining the healthcare workforce. 

“I’m excited to hopefully be part of the medical team and make a difference in the medical community,” she said. “I want to bring the side of compassion, empathy, and patience into the field. It’s such a vital feature and we definitely need more health care workers that carry those qualities… There’s a professional relationship that can be built with patients and I feel like it’s disappearing. I want to bring it back.”

In the meantime, QC has recently announced that some classes that were primarily online will become hybrid in the Fall 2021 semester. Despite this year’s seniors not being able to enjoy the feeling of attending classes in-person anymore, it is definitely a comfort to know that a sense of normalcy awaits the QC community, only a few months away from now.

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