Seniors reconsider post-secondary plans amid pandemic

Mavi DeOliveira visits Times Square in New York City this past winter. — Mavi DeOliveira

Martha’s Regional High School’s (MVRHS) seniors are making decisions about post-secondary plans amid a pandemic, something a graduating class has never before experienced. While increased uncertainty has caused some seniors to cancel travel plans in favor of attending school, others have done the opposite and deferred. Those sticking with their original plan will have to weigh the costs of potentially attending school remotely.

Mavi DeOliveira has been planning to attend Make-Up Designory (MUD), one of the nation’s most prestigious makeup academies, in New York City this fall, as the school has yet to release plans to postpone on-campus instruction. However, MUD has given students the option to defer to the spring six-month intensive program. Mavi has been considering the option. “Honestly, I would probably do it because of my mom, not because of myself,” she said. “[She’s] not really into the idea of me moving to New York with everything going on right now.”

Online courses are an option available to a growing number of students, including Mavi, as schools make the decision to switch to digital platforms. “The school has a couple, but I feel like for you to really experience the school, you should go there,” said Mavi.

Many others share Mavi’s opinion that online learning is not an adequate replacement for traditional teachings. This has caused a spike in the annual rate of student deferrals.

Thea Keene, who originally committed to Northeastern University, is now postponing enrollment until there is more certainty surrounding on-campus instruction. “If the classes are online, I will be deferring and hopefully traveling or working instead,” she said.

Jojo Bonneau’s interrupted plans to do a gap year program included studying and service work at Bushwise Field Guides in South Africa. He prefers waiting it out over partially forgoing his unique learning opportunity to a digital one. “I’d be taking online classes with the school at [Bushwise] to get ready for going when the visa comes through,” said Jojo. “[But] I am hoping to just wait to go in January; I don’t want to take online classes.”

Avalon Weiland is also pursuing an alternate post-secondary pathway, oriented toward traveling and service work. She had planned a multi-destination trip to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Australia with a previous MVRHS exchange student, Indigo Mckeon. Though Indigo is currently unable to rejoin Avalon on-Island due to closed Australian borders, Avalon still hopes she can keep her date of departure in the beginning of fall: “I’m just planning on living here and working until it’s safe to leave, and then I will! I don’t know if that’s going to be two, or three, or four, five months, but I’m just going to ride it out and see what happens.”

While confronting the challenges facing the class of 2020, students have not lost their ambition, and continue to be determined to realize their dreams. “A lot of people have discouraged me, [but traveling] is just something that’s always intrigued me so much,” said Avalon. “I knew that I could not go do another four years in school without having traveled yet.”

Similarly, James Murray has not let COVID-19 hinder his plans to travel the East and West Coasts, playing music alongside fellow graduate Skylar Hall. “There are going to be limitations,” said James. “[But] the bottom line is, we’re getting off this Island.”

Whether it is going off to school, traveling to foreign countries, or staying on-Island to gain real-world work experience, the class of 2020 is taking their unique situation in stride, and will continue to broaden their horizons and better their world.