An Electronic Diploma: What to Expect this Upcoming Fall Semester in University

How will COVID-19 change our current education system? What can we expect for this upcoming fall semester? Read more to find out.

If you’re anything like me, a second-year university student transitioning into third-year, the only motivator getting you through this current pandemic is the possibility of returning to school in the fall and resuming life as it were before January 2020.

But, here’s the hard truth: that’s not about to happen anytime soon, so stop holding your breath. 

This morning I awoke to an email from my university addressing the current situation and possible reconfiguration for this coming fall term:

‘We will primarily offer larger classes online with selected smaller classes conducted in-person, adhering to physical distancing and other public health requirements. Thank you for your time and consideration.’

University of British Columbia

As per-usual, my chat and messaging services were in full-blown hysteria. The questions and concerns raised by students seemed to be endless: What did this mean? Will all of our classes be online this fall? Should I be paying this much money for, let’s face it, a sub-par education? Maybe I should just switch into community college? 

Most of my friends have made the decision to defer their acceptance and work in essential needs services (bagging groceries, repairing vehicles, or working at gas stations) in order to make enough money to pay for their tuition. And those in their final year of university are forced to face a crumbling economy with minimal job prospects. For a lot of other students, they can’t be bothered to pay for an education or think about university, there’s a killing virus on the loose!


Here are five things that might be expected this coming fall semester in university

Tired of long bus lines? No worries, it’s time to switch to ridesharing. 

Rideshare services might be the best solution to stay away from overly-crowded buses and public spaces. Consider downloading apps such as Uber and Lyft to determine the cheapest price that will get you to your desired location. It may be expensive at the start of term, but the need for these rideshare services might drive costs down overtime.

The new school uniform. 

Remember thinking how strange it was to see international students wearing masks to school? Well, it might be time to adopt this same fashion statement. Consider sewing your own mask made out of cloth or reusable fabric that you can make at home. After all, YouTube seems to have an onslaught of recommended video tutorials to help you bedazzle and customize your face mask. 

Napkins and Purell and soap, oh my! 

It astonished me how empty the shelves were for these items at the start of COVID-19. What was everyone doing beforehand? Were they not washing their hands? It might be time for all of us to start bringing travel-sized hand sanitizer to school and washing our hands thoroughly in the bathroom.

Adapting new strategies to fall asleep during lecture. 

I must say, the number of memes and Tiktok hacks that I have seen to solve this problem is incredible. There are a few approaches, but this is my favorite: pre-record yourself sitting attentively at your desk and then change your zoom background to your recording during lecture. Viola, now you can sleep. 


Embracing boredom and procrastination.

It might be time for students to begin learning new skills and acquiring new hobbies. Never learnt how to solve a Rubik’s cube? No worries, you can learn during your fall semester of university. After all, what better way to spend your time during your multi-thousand dollar degree?

I must admit, at first I was in complete denial of COVID-19 and the potential re-configuration of our entire education system. Maybe the fact that I was transitioning into my upper-year at university meant that only first-year students would be affected by this pandemic. After all, class sizes tend to shrink and become more specialized the further you advance your degree. 

I remember my first class of university, walking into a lecture hall filled with hundreds of eager students poised with their touch-screen laptops and electronic pens at the ready. We were all so eager to begin this new stage of life this seemed to initiate us into adulthood. 

But, in this current and eventual post-COVID era, gone are the days of big lecture rooms with a person sneezing on you from behind, or the overly-crowded study spaces where finding an outlet takes more time than writing your essay, or the ritual bus lines that have students jam-packed like cattle. Surely, some of these aspects of university life will be missed. 

It’s a hard concept to grapple with, and my heart goes out to those making the transition from high school to university. My brother, for example, is among the 3.3 million graduates this year. The only thing that he will receive to remember his five-years of high school education? An electronic diploma. And the next five years of university? Probably an online education accomplished entirely in the comfort of his bed using Zoom. 


What will happen if there is a second-wave? a third-wave? a new virus? We can’t help but think about what this might mean for our education or possible career prospects. It may cause many of us to re-think the academic path that we are currently travelling. My heart goes out to all of the university students that are scrambling to make their way through a lost and crumbling world, this generation and the next.

So, once again: Congratulations class of 2020, here’s an electronic diploma. 

Did you like this post? Check out my article Steps for Applying to Canada’s Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).


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