Op-Ed: Dear First-Years, A Letter From A Nostalgic Senior In The Time Of COVID

By Samantha Milowitz|| Staff Writer

When I arrived at Franklin & Marshall in 2017 for freshman year, I was petrified. I had never been on my own before; I had no idea how to take care of myself. It was the most time I had ever spent alone, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Most of the time it was just me, wandering from place to place across campus. I didn’t know if I would ever make friends or if I would be able to make the right friends. I felt unsettled, lost. 

Oftentimes, I would sit on a blue chair on Hartman Green and look on at the rush of upperclassmen walking from class, many of them talking along the way, holding these matching coffee cups with a picture of a mug with a strange, mean face on it. They always looked so happy, and I envied that feeling and wondered when the time would come when I would feel that effortless happiness too. I often longed for the day when I would become a senior. 

If only someone would have told me my senior year would be spent trying to outlast a world-wide pandemic.  

For my class, the seniors of 2021, this was not the year we had in mind. Most of us have been awaiting this year for a long time, as a year where we would be settled, have friends, be adults, and feel like we understand college. Senior year is supposed to be a time of seizing, a series of YOLO moments (or as I call it, YOSCO moments: You’re Only Senior in College Once). But it is hard to seize the day when most of it is spent wearing a mask, hiding in your room, and maintaining a six-feet distance from everyone you meet. Senior year is supposed to be a time where we know everything, where we all feel prepared. 

Senior year is also synonymous with the “real world.” For many of us graduating in 2021, this will be the last year we get to be students, to be kids. It will be the last time we get to learn because we want to learn, not because it’s necessary for our career path. In college, we get to have an advisor tell us what to do or create a club by ourselves. For many of us who were unsure of what to do after graduation, the “real world” was scary enough. Now, with the workforce being so deeply affected by COVID, the job market will be that much more terrifying to dive into.

This summer, as my senior year loomed in front of me, I began thinking about how much time I had wasted wishing for college to be over, to get to the finish line. I was so focused on finally feeling settled that I never took the time to treasure the moments in between. Now as I talk to freshmen and sophomores, I sigh when they talk about visiting the dining hall or how much they hate their connections courses. I didn’t realize it these past four years, but each year I became more settled, more adult, and I fell in love with F&M a little bit more. Even now, with the campus climate being so different, I still smile behind my mask when I walk through campus, just happy to be here at all. 

So, I know taking advantage and being appreciative of the moment is hard, especially now, but I hope that we can all be appreciative of the time we do have here instead of wasting anger on the time we lost. I know this wasn’t the year anyone expected, but I hope it does allow us to appreciate the little normal moments we do have during all of this. 

And to the freshmen class: It’s hard to see now, but one day, hopefully soon, things will get better and you’ll forget what it was like to feel out of place and alone. And when that time comes, I hope that you don’t waste a moment and take in everything you can. Cause you never know what’s going to happen in the future. Trust me. 

Senior Samantha Milowitz is a Staff Writer. Her email is smilowit@fandm.edu.

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