Reading, MA — As spring has started to turn into summer here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, the uncertainty of what is to come is painfully present. This is especially the case for Reading’s young graduates and college students, worrying about what this coming year may bring. As a graduating member of the Reading Memorial High School Class of 2020 myself, I (and many of my peers) can assure you that the transition to college was daunting enough without COVID-19 involved. It has now become much more intimidating.
As a student with ADHD and anxiety, I have had to find lots of creative ways to help myself learn the same way that some of my peers do. Online learning for me has been an uphill battle of constantly feeling confused and overwhelmed. Now, I am not all students, and many students have expressed that they feel they will be alright if their classes move online for their first college semester.
Allyson Powell, a fellow RMHS senior, remarked that she had spent much of her education doing online classes before attending RMHS as a junior and as a result, isn’t too worried about what online college classes will look like for her at UPenn, where she will be attending college. However, she did point out that she had talked about the very same issue with some of her peers, and many of them felt the opposite– that they were really hoping things would somehow be back to some semblance of normalcy for the fall.
Another member of the RMHS Class of 2020, Lisa Li, who will be attending Smith College, said the following when asked about how she felt about the reality of possibly doing her first semester of college online. “Smith is going to announce its plans for the fall in early July, but we were told that the school is figuring out ways to do testing and COVID prevention on campus, so I have a feeling that they will open. (…) Even if they are going to do online courses, I’ll still attend this fall because there’s not going to be anything for me to do. I definitely hope my school opens. I just want that full college experience.” She went on to express her disappointment about the fact that online courses will probably quash any research opportunities or internships that many young adults had been looking forward to at their colleges.
The concern doesn’t just lay within our town’s rising college freshmen, though. Edita Kaplun, a member of RMHS’s Class of 2019 who is attending UMass Amherst expressed her very real concerns about the coming school year: “It’s…been really hard to go from such a fast-paced environment to being home because I feel so much more physically and emotionally exhausted when I’m at home even though I do way less. I think seeing everyone at school working all the time gives me the strength and motivation to do it too, and being slowed down by being at home makes it so much more difficult to want to do anything from doing homework to getting out of bed in the morning. The school environment really changed me and the way I think and it’s just really upsetting because I don’t feel like I can be the motivated, hardworking, and happy person that I want to be if I’m at home.”
After talking to Edita, I also realized that that kind of sums up how I have been feeling about things too. Being a young adult with ADHD, the structure provided by a school helps a lot. It gives me the ability to change my shape to fit the container, just like the way water spreads across a floor after it’s been spilled until it covers as much surface as it can…and that’s kind of how I’ve felt recently. Like my “water” has been spilled all over the floor.
As we move into the summer months, and fall eventually creeps into the corner of our calendars, we should remember as a community, that this transition for our young adults off to college for the first time, or just returning, and that this transition for our school-aged youth, is going to be an especially difficult one. Get down on the floor with your kid, and help them clean up that spilt water that they may feel has become their life.