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Tough decisions on college in a pandemic

Students are making tough choices what their futures are going to look like.

MINNEAPOLIS — Yet another group that has had to make some hard decisions during this pandemic: College students. 

Their pursuit of higher education means risking being infected or spreading COVID, or for some, halting their experience altogether.

Ainsley Schwerr finished the last two years of high school and the first two years of college at the same time at Normandale Community College. Then she had to make a tough call.

“I was planning to go to Hamline University starting 2020 but I ended up deferring because my entire family is immuno-compromised,” Schwerr said. “I really was looking forward to that small classroom environment, to getting to know your professors, to be able to do research projects with your professors and to have that connection so I am really sad,” she said.

Schwerr said her deferment is also giving her time to think of options for 2021. She said she’s not sure how comfortable she’d feel with in-person classes if that’s what the school decides to do.

Schwerr also said paying a private school tuition for what she called a “stunted experience” helped her make that decision.

That brings us to Amy Ma. She’s the student body president at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

“College is expensive and regardless of whether or not faculty and students are trying their best, the value doesn’t feel there in the same way,” Ma said.

Ma says for those who are enrolled, they’re dealing with concerns over virtual learning and the rest of the college experience under COVID restrictions.

“With the dining halls there’s actually a reservation system now where you can reserve a table for a certain amount of time,” Ma said. “It’s sad because when I think of dining halls my first year, it was such a hub of community sometimes we’d stay there for an hour,” Ma said.

Ma says to add to all of this, it has been a tumultuous election season, and a summer full of unrest after the killing of George Floyd. Ma said students aren’t able to gather to heal.

“Feelings of isolation have been really common I know our mental health services have been more utilized this year as well as our disability resource center and other services that are supporting students,” Ma said.

Ma hopes students will seek help. She said for any other student feeling like they’re in this alone, they’re not.