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I’m experiencing a less than ideal ending to my undergraduate career.

Yesterday morning, I attended my first online lecture for a course called soil quality. We used a platform called Webex, which felt much like a Skype call. My teacher lectured like normal as if we were in class but only about five of my peers came online (out of 12). This is the only class I have that’s switching over to meeting online during our scheduled class time; and the lab portion of the course is being replaced with shorter take-home assignments.

Other professors chose to create digital spaces where they can be available to students. Mostly, they’re doing this through virtual office hours and Canvas discussion boards. Other than that, course schedules have completely changed. Now on a regular day I download assignments, watch videos, and review PowerPoints in place of class.

The worst part is that I actually miss going to class to hear lectures and discussions. My wilderness and society course, for example, is a discussion-based class. Students actually took the role of professor every week and reviewed content from the textbook. My peers always came up with interesting debate topics based on the weekly readings. We had fun with it. We were even planning a camping trip to Red River Gorge this April! Unfortunately, that won’t be able to happen either.

The undergraduate and graduate classes of 2020 at Ball State are anxiously waiting to hear from President Mearns about our spring commencement ceremony. Many campuses in Indiana, like Indiana University, have already cancelled their ceremonies. But, according to an email sent to students and faculty on March 16, 2020, President Mearns “…will make a decision regarding our May commencement exercises within the next week. If we are compelled to cancel this special event, I will ask our graduates to share their suggestions about when and how we should celebrate their achievements.”

What could a celebration of achievements look like in the midst of a pandemic? Should I expect a Skype-like ceremony where we dance and listen to the graduation song from home? I’m not sure what to make of that at this point.

The course of my senior year has changed in less than two weeks. So, I’ve decided to take this time to solidify my post graduation plans and spend more time with family. I encourage everyone to make the most of this time, though the circumstances are not ideal. In the meantime, stay safe and don’t forget to practice social distancing!

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