As college classes continue across the country, many students have found themselves not where they pictured. Classes, residence halls and coursework have all been adjusted to the ongoing pandemic. But some students have decided to wait it out.
For Olivia Kuehnle, it kind of felt like there were only two options for her freshman Fall Semester: opt into online classes, or defer semesters. Kuehnle chose the latter.
Kuehnle was set to study environmental biology this fall. Instead of taking class through Ohio University, she chose to go through her local community college.
“I felt like it would make so much more sense to take my classes, still online, through (my community college) for almost free, (rather than) through OU, who we still weren’t getting info from,” Kuehnle said in a Facebook message.
Kuehnle didn’t find herself alone; one of her roommates deferred, too. It’s been a real roller coaster, going through the pandemic as an incoming freshman, she said.
“I was so excited to join clubs and meet people from everywhere and I just feel like I’ll never get that back,” Kuehnle said in a message. “I think it’s more of the not really knowing what to expect already and then having this thrown in that adds so much more anxiety to it.”
The decision to defer was extremely difficult, Aaron May, an incoming transfer student, said. It took about three weeks to decide, he explained.
“I was going to be a meteorology major,” May said in a Facebook message. “But I am rethinking my major to a GIS and geography major.”
Like Kuehnle, May is taking community college classes in the meantime.
“I made the choice to defer simply because of the price of OU,” May said in a message. “I am now temporarily attending Sinclair Community College so I can continue my education for cheaper.”
Like May, Ainsley Sawyer, an incoming freshman studying biology, deferred to Spring Semester 2021 for financial reasons. As an out-of-state student, Sawyer didn’t want to take online classes and pay regular tuition. Her parents tried to prepare her for the reality of deferring, but she also didn’t want to risk what she couldn’t predict.
“I didn't want to have the slight possibility to come to school and then not be able to go and have to pack up in a week,” Sawyer said. “We figured we might as well wait.”
Sawyer hopes that she’ll be able to come back to campus soon.
“Hopefully when I go, COVID will get cleared up and I can have a regular college experience,” Sawyer said.
Though it was a difficult decision to make, the deferral process was quite simple, Sawyer added. With the click of a few buttons and a confirmation call, she deferred to spring in a few weeks. Sawyer said she might defer again if the circumstances aren’t different by spring. In the meantime, she has a job.
It's been disappointing not to attend OU this semester, May said. He, Sawyer and Kuehnle all said they were excited to meet their peers, go to events and join student organizations.
“I was looking forward to attending clubs and sporting events,” May said. “I have been attending Sinclair since 2019 and they have been doing a fine job helping me. I have fantastic profs (my geography one which graduated from OU) and they have been helpful. It is disappointing to not have any clubs or activities hosted by Sinclair, however.”
For both Kuehnle and Sawyer, as unfortunate as it was that they couldn’t come to OU, they realized the risks that come from traveling to Athens.
“With all this being said though I do understand that Athens couldn’t necessarily handle thousands of students having COVID and all the residents getting it too, but it still very much sucks,” Kuehnle said in a message.