Sept 25, 2020 | By Riley Prillwitz | Photo by Anil Jergens
Teachers and students have grown increasingly familiar with Zoom in the seven months that the country has spent in the height of the pandemic. For some, it is a pleasure to be able to attend class from the comfort of their home.
However, for others, “Zoom University” is simply not the right fit.
A growing number of Colorado College students have opted to take a block or even an entire semester off of school because of the hardships and adversities that this year has brought. Whether it be for mental health, financial, or academic reasons, some would rather place their college career on hold rather than continue to pursue a degree in the current climate.
Haley Wright ’22 is one of those students taking a semester off. She decided back in July that this was the best decision she could make for herself.
“As more decisions about the fall came out, I watched all but one of my classes get moved online or cancelled entirely,” she said. “As a film major, my goal for myself this year was to get a lot of hands on experience working closely with my peers, and it didn’t seem likely that we would get those opportunities on campus this year.”
Wright also had a hard time adjusting to Blocks 7 and 8 at home, and could not see herself battling through a semester in the same fashion. “CC provides a lot of the resources I need to study, so it didn’t make sense to pay for another semester of tuition without having access to those resources,” she said.
Wright is not alone in her opinions. Stella Biehl ’22 officially decided she was taking Block 2 off when the campus closure was announced. Biehl had been contemplating this decision throughout August and saw the closure as the deciding factor.
“I’m a Studio Art and Psychology double major … The classes that I have left in both majors are ones that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” said Biehl. “So far, I haven’t gotten much out of my past four online courses, and I’m worried this would be the same for the rest of my online classes. Also, taking Studio Art classes online is not really a possibility. For these reasons, I didn’t feel like online classes were financially worth it.”
Andrew West ’21 also decided that taking the semester off was a better idea for him. “To me, being at CC is about a lot more than just learning — a huge part of it is being able to go to events, play sports, and hang out with friends. [With] school being fully online, it just wasn’t worth it for me,” he said.
Making the decision to take the semester off is no easy one. There are a lot of factors that come into play, such as financial aid and expected graduation date.
Biehl will be experiencing these effects. “I’ll be graduating later than I expected. If I just take fall off, I’ll graduate one semester late, and if I take spring off too, I’ll graduate a full year late.”
West will also postpone his initial graduation date. “My plan is to take a gap-year and be fully committed to classes and sports next fall. I will graduate in 2022, when things will hopefully be closer to normal!”
Other students, such as Wright, have been able to create a plan that will keep them on track for their expected graduation date.
“Thankfully, I have some extra credits built up, so as long as I take summer blocks, I’m not too worried about not graduating on time,” Wright said. “In order to keep my financial aid and loans, I have to take classes in the spring, so my plan is to start at either J Block or Block 5 and go through B or C Block next summer to make up the year.”
Students say that the college has been overall supportive of big decisions like these amid the chaos the pandemic has brought. Both Wright and Biehl have had support from their advisors in this endeavor.
“The school has been supportive of my decision,” Biehl said. “I have a really awesome advisor and he talked through my options with me.”
“My professors and advisors were very helpful and supportive of my decision, although working with the school was a little chaotic,” Wright said. “At the time, the new block schedule had recently come out, so there wasn’t a lot of communication between the different offices I had to go through (Financial Aid, Housing, The Hub, Registrar) and it was very confusing.”
While the pandemic has caused plenty of stress, something Biehl said she is experiencing at the moment, taking time off from school takes away an extra stressor during these uncertain times.
Wright gave good insight into these ideas when she said, “Even if I had gone back to school this semester, it would have been so different from other years, it would have been tough for me to handle. Not having to worry about that (at least for now) has relieved a lot of stress.”
“Having this time off has allowed me to do some cool work remotely and start working at a restaurant, while also taking more time to enjoy myself and spend time with friends,” West added.
As the old saying goes, drastic times call for drastic measures. Some CC students see taking a semester off as the best option in these drastic times.