What comes to mind when you think of speed? Kids might think of the Disney “Cars” movies, gamers might think of “Sonic the Hedgehog” and car enthusiasts might think of Koenigseggs, Bugattis or BMWs. As a college student, the word elicits thoughts of the accelerated semester. Aug. 24 marked the beginning of this peculiar semester, but it feels like just yesterday that we started classes again. It appears that not even a Bugatti can compare to how fast assignments are due or how quickly the semester has passed.
This past semester was filled with enough events to make several documentaries. Chadwick Boseman’s death was heartbreaking to his fans. The California wildfires displaced thousands of people and continue to demonstrate the harsh reality of climate change. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and was succeeded by Amy Coney Barrett. Early voting incited a rise in voter registration and forced many to have difficult conversations about politics with friends and family. Eddie Van Halen, the famous guitarist who inspired several other musicians, also passed. Former Vice President Joe Biden was recently declared the President-elect while President Trump continues to claim that voter fraud and issues concerning ballot-counting are at work in several states. Most recently, Alex Trebek, the beloved host of Jeopardy! and the man who kept us interested in learning trivia, passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. And on top of all of this, we are still living through a pandemic that might have a second — and worse, if that’s even possible — wave in the upcoming weeks.
And, as students, we are still trying to concentrate on finishing up an accelerated semester.
The presence of the pandemic in our lives is stressful enough on its own, but coupled with these current events, students experiencing difficulties in the “new normal” — whether they are living on campus, commuting to campus or completely staying home — adhering to social distancing protocols and everything in-between, many may find that all of this has taken a toll on their mental health. The speed of the semester further strains students and faculty alike. While students are forced to submit assignments quickly, regardless of whether they actually learned anything, professors are forced to grade and give feedback to students just as quickly.
Everyone has been pushed to their limits with limited resources to help alleviate these pressures. As almost everything is conducted virtually, it is not easy to access certain services. Tensions rise for students when they start thinking about the spring semester, which will also take place in an accelerated format. At this point, most students and faculty probably feel burnt out, with just enough flame to get them through these last two weeks.
Much like other students, my assignments are officially piling up. Case studies, research papers, presentations, field projects and final essays are soon to be completed.
These due dates are filling my calendar in various colors. Post-its filled with late-night thoughts about thesis statements and journal article citations are pasted all over my desk. Up until now, I have managed to complete assignments on Canvas and Blackboard by their 11:59 p.m. deadlines, but as the days until finals decrease, I am finding that my anxiety about these deadlines is increasing. These next weeks will probably be filled with staple study snacks (almonds, kettle corn and granola bars), frappes and lots of note-taking.
Armed with highlighters and blue-light glasses, this double-majoring student is prepared to take on the last weeks of this odd semester and finish strong. Hopefully every student can manage to keep their foot on the gas and finish off this race strong. After all, with determination, resilience and strong-will, students are the Koenigsegg Agera to the accelerated semester’s Bugatti Chiron. We all know who won that race — it was the Agera.