Claire Allinson was looking forward to completing her senior year as a double major in Accounting and Mathematics on the Dahlonega Campus when the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic required a rapid shift to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. The Lilburn, Georgia, native also was in the Honors program doing undergraduate research, holding down a job in outdoor recreation, and participating in various extracurricular activities. Now, everything has changed.
“I am not going to lie – it was pretty difficult to transition so quickly to an all online format,” Allinson said. “When it happened, I was living off-campus in an apartment with a roommate, and now I am home with my family trying to figure out what space works for me and how I will make a routine. I actually bought a paper planner. I used to do everything electronically, but now I find that since I have the time to write things down it has helped me get better organized.”
Like many UNG students, Allinson had internet connectivity issues at first when she moved home.
“My Dad had always worked from home but now my mother was working from home and my little sister was doing classes online and then I was home too. It was a concern in the beginning about where I could go to get Wi-Fi and it was very stressful.”
Although the sudden loss of autonomy was an added stressor, Allinson said there also have been some nice perks. She enjoys the home-cooked meals and appreciates the extra time she gets to spend with her younger sister, Caroline, who is in high school.
The sisters have enjoyed just hanging out in their down time. They have worked on puzzles together and decided to learn to knit. Caroline, it turns out, is a natural with the needles. The younger sister has been helping her older sibling learn to knit while he older sister has been instrumental in helping both of them get on a good routine at home – balancing school work and self-care.
In fact, if Allinson had any advice for her fellow students it would be these two things:
#1 – Create a schedule and establish a routine for yourself – having some structure is important.
#2 Reach out to friends and classmates – sharing struggles and stories with each other is really helpful and helps ease feelings of isolation.
Allinson admits that she was very disappointed about missing graduation in May, but she is looking forward to participating in the summer ceremonies. She also regrets missing out on many of the “last things” she would have done as a senior in her final semester. The sadness, she said, comes in waves, and she tries to mentally process those losses a little at a time so she won’t be overwhelmed.
Now comes the job search – a source of stress for any graduating senior, but even more challenging in the midst of a pandemic. She said that a remote session with UNG’s Career Services office was really helpful. In the session, they told students to be patient. They might not be able to land their dream job right now, but they could still get a job that would give them experience and transferable skills for that dream job down the road.
Patience doesn’t come naturally to Allinson, but she realizes it will be a useful skill to develop in light of today’s realities. Allinson’s dream job is to manage an outdoor recreation facility and she hopes that her internship in Idaho will just be postponed rather than cancelled due to the pandemic. For now and in the months ahead, she is developing her new skill – patience, and taking things one day at a time.