College Chaos: Update on the Class of 2020

Jayanti Singla, Reporter

After graduating from high school in the midst of a pandemic, the members of the class of 2020 had a difficult decision to make. Students did not know if their colleges would open in the fall, if college sports seasons would be canceled, or when their deferral deadlines would be. People who were supposed to travel for gap years had to put plans on hold and students planning to attend schools out of state did not know if their campuses would be safe. Once it became clear that coronavirus would continue into what should have been their freshman year, some students chose to defer instead of attending online classes at home, but the pandemic is making it hard to find internships and jobs. Most of the graduating class is currently attending school online, though some are living on campus and going to class in person. Despite struggling with the unpredictability of their first year after high school, class of 2020 graduates Ellie Novogradac, Isabel Haas, and Gigi Yamamato are all happy with the decisions that they made.

Gigi Yamamoto – Gap Year

Gigi Yamamoto decided to defer from Occidental College and spend a year taking community college classes, coaching soccer, and baking cupcakes. She originally intended to spend a gap year playing soccer in Brazil, but when she learned she would be unable to go because of Covid, her next plan was to attend college in Los Angeles. When Covid-19 cancelled the Occidental soccer season, Yamamoto decided to spend a gap year at home instead. She is taking Calculus, Creative Writing, and Intro to Marketing at Laney College. Yamamoto is also starting a bakery named Gisele’s Cupcakes and will sell her homemade desserts online. According to Yamamato, baking has kept her sane during quarantine, so she decided to profit from her interest. Her cupcakes can be bought normally in batches, or customers can sign up for a monthly subscription to get 4 cupcakes delivered every week. Additionally, Yamamoto is continuing to work as a private soccer coach for a young girl who she has worked with previously. She also recently began coaching some of the young girl’s friends, as well as two of the School’s students. Coaching soccer is “a lot of fun” for Yamamoto, and she has been enjoying her gap year so far.

Isabel Haas – Tufts University

Isabel Haas, a freshman at Tufts University in Massachusetts, has a mix of in-person and online classes. For in-person classes, seats are marked six feet apart to maintain social distancing, and students wipe down their desks before they leave. Haas and her classmates alternate between attending in person and watching over Zoom because with social distancing, the lecture halls cannot seat entire sections. Since some classes are in-person, Haas has been living with a roommate in a dorm and thinks that “Tufts is doing a great job of keeping [them] safe.” Unlike other universities, Tufts is not housing students individually, but has many other safety measures in place, including restrictions on social gatherings, biweekly Covid-19 testing, and policies requiring everyone to wear masks. Although there are few coronavirus cases and most students follow guidelines, Haas says Tufts has threatened suspension or expulsion if people intentionally break rules. Overall, although “it definitely feels different than a normal year in a lot of ways,” Haas is “very glad that [she] came on campus because it’s been nice to meet people and be in a new environment.”

Ellie Novogradac – Claremont McKenna College

As a freshman at Claremont McKenna College, Ellie Novogradac has been attending all of her classes over Zoom from home. Most of her classes have a standard structure, with professors lecturing during class, but for chemistry, Novogradac watches video lectures independently and uses synchronous class time to do labs sent to her house. According to Novogradac, online school at Claremont McKenna is fun because she gets to meet new people, but she wishes she could be on campus to “connect with [her] professors because it is really difficult [without having] one on one conversations with them.” Additionally, Novogradac was recruited as a catcher for Claremont McKenna’s softball team, but can now only meet with her team and coaches online. Aside from weekly Zoom meetings with her teammates, a few of whom she met last fall, she practices on her own and with her old coach. Novogradac cannot spend as much time as she wants with her current coaches because of rules that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has put in place for this fall. Although she wishes she could be on campus, Novogradac thinks online school has been a positive experience so far and is looking forward to the rest of the year.