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College Students Share Their Thoughts on the Fall 2020 Semester

With the Fall 2020 semester just around the corner, most colleges and universities have announced their plans for the upcoming academic semester. Administrators have decided whether or not their students are allowed to return to campus, as well as what class format (in-person, online, or hybrid) will best fit their needs. When coming to a decision, every school had to consider the size of their student body, location of campus, and financial abilities of students, faculty, and the university itself. Here are four Scarsdale residents, now college sophomores, who shared their thoughts on their respective colleges’ plans for Fall 2020.

cornellSydney Albert, Cornell University (Me)

I am currently planning on returning to campus for the fall semester. The administration recognizes that students have had so much valuable time already taken away from their college experience, and does not want to further inhibit it. All students are invited to return to campus, given that most upperclassmen live off campus so it is much easier to accommodate the student body. Classes will start on September 2 and we will remain on campus until Thanksgiving, after which finals will be completed remotely. It has not yet been announced whether they will be in-person, online, or a hybrid of the two.  If classes are in person, they will definitely honor social distancing guidelines. The administration has also set up a plan to ensure students are tested frequently for COVID-19. I think Cornell has done a great job thus far in making sure that students come to school healthy and prepared for social distancing. 

I will be living in my sorority house.

The school waited a really long time before announcing plans, so the anticipation was definitely tough. I was so excited when I finally heard that we are allowed to reside on campus for the fall semester. That was the general consensus among other students too. 

I am really excited to continue my time at Cornell. College still feels pretty new to me considering I only spent 1.5 semesters on campus, so I can’t wait for campus to feel more and more like home. That being said, I am nervous that we won’t make it until Thanksgiving, and that the administration will send us home early. My classes start relatively late compared to other schools, so it will be interesting to see how life resumes at other colleges before it is even time for me to return.

georgetownMichael Anderson, Georgetown University


Can you briefly outline your school’s plans for the fall semester (dates for return, who is allowed on campus, class format, and other general protocol)?
Freshmen, transfer students, and students with poor living situations at home are the only students allowed to return to campus on August 26. The rest of the students are expected to complete their coursework from an off-campus location, preferably at home. One of my professors thinks that not even the freshmen and transfer students will end up returning to campus, given what’s been going on with Major League Baseball.

Where will you be living during the fall semester?
I am leasing an apartment with friends off-campus in Georgetown. We have been advised to avoid going on campus.

What was the reaction among students when your school announced its plans? Overall, were you pleased or disappointed?
I honestly never expected us to go back for the Fall 2020 semester so I would say I am not surprised by Georgetown’s current plan. However, just because it was expected, doesn’t mean it isn’t disappointing.

If you are returning to campus, are you excited? Is there anything you are nervous about?
I’m really excited to see my friends and get to live with them in an apartment, but I am definitely worried that the fall won’t go smoothly. Living in DC could end up either being a positive and safe experience or a negative one, and right now it’s really unclear which it will be.


villanovaMia Dell’Orto, Villanova University

Can you briefly outline your school’s plans for the fall semester (dates for return, who is allowed on campus, class format, and other general protocol)?
All students are allowed to return to campus for the Fall 2020 Semester, and I am moving in on August 14. Once I am on campus, I will take four of my classes online, and one in person. Social distancing is going to be strictly enforced all over campus and the administration has created many rules to ensure it will take place. Each student is assigned to eat at only one dining hall, wear a mask at all times, and stay six feet apart from all other students, except roommates.

Where will you be living during the fall semester?
I will be living in a dorm with one roommate.

What was the reaction among students when your school announced its plans? Overall, were you pleased or disappointed?
We are all just so grateful that we are allowed to go back to school. Although it’s disappointing that the social life at Villanova will change, I’m still excited to be back with my friends.

If you are returning to campus, are you excited? Is there anything you are nervous about?
I’m excited to see my friends, but not excited for how different from last year campus life will be. I’m nervous about the food and how dining halls will work. The thought of getting sent home early is also something that stresses me out.

dartmouthBen Lehrburger, Dartmouth College

Can you briefly outline your school’s plans for the fall semester (dates for return, who is allowed on campus, class format, and other general protocol)?
My school is adopting a “2/4” plan: two out of four classes are allowed on campus during a given term. Our dates remain the same as the regular school year, but classes will be entirely online and group gatherings will be virtually nonexistent.

Where will you be living during the fall semester?
During the fall I’ll be living about 20 minutes off-campus. There’s a cohort of rising sophomores doing the same.

What was the reaction among students when your school announced its plans? Overall, were you pleased or disappointed?
When school was initially canceled, everyone was devastated but understood that we were sacrificing ten weeks of school to potentially save lives. But when plans for the 2021 academic year turned bleak, people took it personally. It felt like the administration was stripping each student of their chance to get the college experience they worked so hard to attain. And students knew the administration wasn't using their resources resourcefully. Our endowment is massive and our school is adjacent to the largest hospital in the state, but they still cut five varsity teams and ruled out a hybrid learning program.

If you are returning to campus, are you excited? Is there anything you are nervous about?
I’m excited to see my friends and be around people my own age again (my family is great but they just won’t cut it). I think that even with everything that’s going on, we’ll find a way to create a niche college experience. That said, I’m worried for the College’s surrounding community, which has a high population of elderly residents. If an outbreak is unleashed, they would be severely jeopardized. I guess it comes down to what the community values more: elderly lives or youth education and economic sustenance.

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