Loss of identity amid COVID-19

Taylor Spencer, News Editor

By now, everyone is aware of how COVID-19 has impacted the education system. From spread-out desks to virtual Fridays to a lack of hands-on activities, the physical impacts are undeniable. Although these features are a thing of the past, the psychological impacts on the students’ lives still linger. Specifically, the sense of identity and responsibility the odd years have erased, especially for upperclassmen.

COVID-19 majorly impacted two years, ending one early and threading virtual activities throughout the other. Due to this, it is difficult to feel like one is truly at this mature place where they begin to make major, career-altering decisions. It feels like the years have rushed by. And even though the same amount of time has passed that would’ve in a normal school year, the level of experience students have doesn’t seem quite up to par with where it should be. The virtual learning environment was disconnected from the true school experience, and it also decreased the accountability of many students, negatively impacting them and further distancing them from the crucial sense of responsibility that would be developed during this time. And even though most of the virtual aspects were required,  COVID-19 has made so many aspects of life feel inconsequential that when seriously important decisions are brought up, many feel deeply out of touch.

Because so many years have been cut short, upperclassmen are at this level where they have to feel ready and prepared. They start to make decisions based on their futures now, whether that be through touring colleges and selecting classes that fit their career path as a junior, waiting to hear back from colleges, or searching for scholarships as a senior. However, it feels like one hasn’t truly gained all of the experience they should have. It can’t really be time to make all of these decisions. Students still feel lost and inexperienced. And while this is a common sentiment whether or not COVID-19 is present, having even shorter years has certainly exacerbated the situation. 

The shortening of certain years has led them all to start to blur. It’s difficult to truly feel like you’re a member of the grade you’re in when you never completed the entirety of the two grades before. And when those sentiments coincide with a lack of school spirit events over the past couple of years, stability and surety within one’s grade level and responsibilities are nearly impossible to find.

While all of these psychological aspects will fade at the high school level as new groups of students who will (hopefully) experience the entire four years move in, the current group of students still have to navigate all of these responsibilities. Pressing play and moving rapidly into college and careers after COVID-19 put life on pause is no small feat. But, just like every other policy and limit introduced during this period, students will adapt to this burden, just as they always have.