Joining Babson During COVID-19

Article by Sanskriti Chandak

It was a month and a half after my school closed down due to COVID-19, and four weeks after the International Baccalaureate Organization announced that they were cancelling the May 2020 examination. Still shocked by this unexpected and abrupt end to my senior year, there I was deciding where I wanted to be for the next four years with an endless list of unanswered questions about my freshman year but also a glimmer of hope for a fresh start. On April 26, 12:22 pm I tick marked the small square box and clicked submit, choosing Babson as my home for the next four years.

Babson’s Facebook Group for the Class of 2024 was linked to the end of my acceptance letter. It was my first real insight into Babson’s vibrant student community. The vivid excitement of being an incoming freshman was incontestable. Introduction posts flooded my feed every day. The mutual eagerness to get to know one another before arriving on campus was fostered by Zoom calls, WhatsApp and Snapchat groups. Together, we also made a “College Bucket List”, which was essentially a list of all the things we were looking forward to doing together including having a dorm movie night, going to Babson basketball games and visiting the Boston Common; the list was nearly endless.

But all this eagerness came with its share of worry, uncertainty and ambivalence. By this time, the whole world was catching up with coronavirus, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a Pandemic and countries around the world closed their borders. And in the midst of all this, I, like everyone other senior from the class of 2020, was finishing high school without a graduation ceremony, a last day of school, or even the chance to say goodbye to my friends, teachers and beloved school. Instead of celebrating this milestone with my friends, family and teachers, I marked the end of high school by emailing in my last assignment and calling it a day as I cleared the pile of books scattered around my room and wiped the list of tasks and deadlines from the whiteboard hanging above my desk. No more homework, no more assignments, no more exams, no more deadlines…. well, for a while at least.

I never would’ve guessed it would end this, it felt like a dream, a dream I wanted to wake up from.

As I looked towards the future, a million thoughts were running through my mind. Will I be going to college in the fall? Will it be online or in-person? Will it be safe to travel by then? Will I have to defer? While the dismay caused by COVID-19 is unexplainable, a normal college experience is something every high school senior has been dreaming of for the past year including myself.

Luckily, Babson announced that it will be open this fall. On June 26, President Spinelli announced two primary choices for all undergraduate students- hybrid classes and fully online classes and launched a comprehensive plan to guide our return to campus this fall on July 1. I believe Babson’s small student body and open campus is the key reason it is able to offer students the ability to be on campus while following the Reopening Massachusetts plan and continued guidance and recommendations from the CDC and other public health authorities.

One of the most unparalleled opportunities unique to Babson is the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course, a pivotal motive for attending Babson. It is an experience every freshman looks forward to with immense excitement and enthusiasm. While Babson has described how FME would function for students attending classes in the hybrid format with its newly-evolving online business development component and assured accessibility for those studying remotely as well, it remains unclear as to how the students studying remotely will fit into this new picture and whether we’ll be able to share the same or at least a similar experience to the students on campus.

Nevertheless, the situation seems a little more complicated and uncertain for student-athletes. As per the latest updates, training is set to begin as usual for all sports in anticipation of a full regular season. While this mentality is good for most, and something controllable in these times of uncertainty, nothing is set in stone.

The unpredictability is even more so for international students. Without being able to secure an F1 visa on time, they won’t be able to come to campus this fall. And flying in from another country would come with its rules and regulations of having to quarantine upon arrival, in addition to the restrictions already in place on-campus. In which case, deferring to January 2021 seems like the only viable option for international students.

During all this however, Babson has been providing us with many virtual opportunities to learn more about the school and think positively. Every week, a #BabsonBound Bulletin email lands in our inbox with weekly updates, virtual visit experiences to sign up for and a #BabsonBound 2024 Spotlight. My favorite part of the #BabsonBound Bulletin has been the virtual visit experiences, from Finance Fridays and Senior Seminars to the CCD Series and Residential Hall Tours. I’ve learned about the Cutler Center, the Weissman Foundry and so much more before even stepping foot on campus.

I’m immensely grateful for all the support Babson has provided during these turbulent times and the community I’ve become a part of in the past few months. Though some details of the freshman experience still remain unclear. I strongly believe that things will sort themselves out and that Babson will do its best to ensure that this will be a freshman experience to remember. I could not be happier to call Babson my home away from home for the next four years even though I may not be on campus anytime. And though this version of a freshman year was unimaginable, its one that will go down in history. Class of 2024, here we go.