Virus concerns alter college students’ priorities

Posted May 14, 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has caused a shift in priorities for some UW-River Falls students as they reevaluate what’s truly important in their lives.

During a traditional academic year, grades, exams, work and time with friends occupy college students. A 2018 report from Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University indicated 70 percent of full-time college students also have jobs. And, the report concluded a majority of students are working 15-35 hours a week.

My friend, Joseph Ward, a senior studying finance, said the pandemic has delayed the possibilities of an internship.“I can’t get an internship anymore, so I’m going back to landscaping. Which sets that back another year.”

Although Ward is concerned about his internship being postponed, he said the coronavirus has made him reflect on more important things. “It makes me disappointed in myself because I didn’t take the steps earlier to visit my grandpa in Duluth more. He’s getting pretty old,” Ward said. “The most difficult part is that you can’t be there for them if they do get sick. The best thing you can do is stay away.”

I’ve found my experiences to be similar to Ward’s. School and employment have taken a backseat to the health of the people I love. I’m worried about my parents and grandparents. They’re old enough to have legitimate concerns about what would happen if they were to get the coronavirus. They live in a small town in western Wisconsin where health resources are limited.

After I moved home I found myself focusing on issues that I’ve never had to think about before. For example, I think about my grandparents going to get groceries and hope they stay safe. I wonder if it’s safe for my mother to be shopping for food. Should I be the one buying groceries instead? Those thoughts are something that would have never crossed my mind three months ago.

With these personal concerns, I still appreciate that the faculty and staff at UWRF have made the transition to alternative methods of instruction as smooth as possible. Their level of understanding and recognition of significant life changes has created a positive environment to learn in for the remainder of the spring semester.