Take a deep breath. Maybe one more. I inhale through my nose and try to exhale through my mouth but it’s closer to air squeezing out from in between my teeth. I glare hard at my computer screen and my fingers tremble across the keyboard on whether I should press “enter,” to see the results of my graduate school application. After pacing the room a few more times, I finally gathered the courage to open the browser and find out that I’d been accepted into the program of my choice. But instead of hollering and throwing pillows across the room, a deep and heavy sigh escapes my mouth because the emotion I’m feeling right now is exhaustion. I applied to the Queens College (QC) graduate school program during the pandemic, a new experience in many ways. When I applied to college as a high school senior, I had the help of both my guidance counselor and college counselor who made sure that I was aware of deadlines and had the necessary documents.
For my graduate school application, I received an enormous amount of help and feedback from the director of my program, but there were times where I felt completely lost. For example, when I had to contact my high school for my official transcript, I had to juggle between my director and my former college counselor regarding how and who to send the transcript to, because QC’s campus was closed due to the pandemic. Every moment was filled with endless worries; the anxiety of ‘Did I submit GRE scores properly? How about my course history? Where do I send my check to? When am I going to know the result? By mail or email?’
Moreover, I felt alone. I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the same process as I was. Because of the pandemic, our orientation was cancelled so the chance to exchange numbers and information with our colleagues was stripped away from me. However, even though the process of applying to graduate school was over, I was still lost on what to do after my acceptance because there were so many different resources pouring at me all at once. Some were saying we didn’t need to pay for our registration fee while others completely opposed this idea.
But as I wrap up my very first semester of fully online courses at my graduate school, I can’t say that the pandemic has only had negative impacts. I was still able to build some meaningful connections with my peers through text messages and more importantly, I felt safe. If I had to travel through public transportation to school every day, it would’ve caused so much fear within me that I may have been exposed to COVID. Theodore Kesler, QC Professor of Early Childhood Education, states “not meeting everybody in person, even now, teaching the courses remotely is harder for me. We lose a lot of the interpersonal connections like I don’t know all of you nearly as meeting in person.” Through Covid, we have learned that humans truly cannot live alone.