The University of COVID-19


Taylor Burnham

Many high school seniors wait in anticipation for the day they start college. They put all their time into researching different universities, filling out their applications, and deciding which institution will help them succeed in their goals- all in excitement for those next few years. This year, however, college looks completely differentWith COVID-19 guidelines and precautions, campus life has minimized, and students are confined to their dorm rooms for mainly virtual classes. While many students chose to stay on campus despite these changes, some chose to stay home, opting for completely remote learning for the 2020-2021 school yearsimilar to how Dakota High School has been approaching the school environment.


My brother, Zachary Burnham, is one of the college students who chose to remain virtual at home this year. He is a freshman at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and is studying to improve his voice for musical performances. The main reason he chose to stay home was because of the COVID-19 restrictions. “All of my classes for the upcoming school year were virtual…[and] I realized that going away to college to be stuck in a small room for most of my days made no sense,” he explained. “Staying home allowed me to attend all of my classes, while still having the comfort of home, my belongings, my family, and all the benefits of having my own personal workspace. 


The classes themselves are only slightly different from what he expected. “I expected online classes to be the same length as in-person classes, but some of my online classes are reduced in length. That said, the rest of the hour is made up through after class assessments.”  


Zachary provided me with a list of advantages and disadvantages of his online learning experience that he has identified over the past several months: 

Advantages: Financially smarter, higher productivity, the comfort of home, support of family, safer 

Disadvantages: Miss out on potential in-person events, procrastination, isolation, difficulty forming relationships, inability to become familiar with the campus 


Although there are many difficulties associated with virtual learning, he felt the pros outweighed the cons, and he believes going online for this year was a smart decision. “Financially, I saved thousands of dollars in housing and meal plans. Productivity wise, working from home gave me so much freedom in how I could approach my schoolworkSafety-wise, I stayed away from crowded residence halls and a college campus packed with students from all over the world.  


If he could give one piece of advice to current seniors who may have to deal with COVID-19 for their first year of college or to high school students living through virtual, Zachary said: 

“You have to approach online learning with a growth-mindset and a willingness to adapt to the new challenges that it presents. In a lot of ways online learning is easier, and in a lot of ways it can be harder. It will take time to adjust, and that’s okay. Just keep working hard and doing your best, and that will always be good enough.”