Ask Emma: I don’t know what to expect if I start school in the fall

Watch town hall meetings; think about reasons for or against taking a gap year



As high school seniors graduate this spring and decide whether to attend WSU in the fall, a lot of unknowns are still up in the air. Emma advises seniors to keep tabs on the latest updates from the university.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Dear Emma,

I’m going to be a freshman at WSU in the fall and I’m worried about what classes are going to be like. I was already nervous to transition from high school to college, but that was before everything happened with the pandemic. My parents suggested I take a gap year. I would rather start in August like I planned, but I just don’t know what to expect. 

Please help,


Dear Newbie,

I am so sorry to hear you have to make this decision. I promise you made a good choice with WSU — I just wish we could give you a proper welcome to the Coug family with our normal in-person activities in the fall. 

First of all, I think it is important for you to have a conversation with your parents about why you don’t want to take a gap year if you haven’t talked to them about it already. I don’t know what your exact reasoning is, and they might not either. 

It is valid to say that we don’t know if things will be “normal” by fall 2021. It is also harder to start again when you don’t have momentum after taking some time off. 

Consider your reasons for wanting to start in the fall and talk to your parents about them. Be sure you also listen to their reasons for suggesting a gap year. 

At this point, we don’t know what the fall is going to look like, so I can’t really tell you what to expect. As a side note, university officials are hosting regular town hall meetings to update the WSU community about future plans — check out the most recent one for more details. 

However, what I can tell you is that online classes are very different from in-person ones, which you probably already have experienced a bit. For the most part, professors have been very understanding about late work, needing extra help with content and difficulty with technology. Try not to worry about those things because everyone is trying to adjust to online school and will be experiencing the same problems. 

Hopefully some smaller classes will still be able to meet in person, but as I said, we just don’t know what that will look like. 

When it comes to Week of Welcome, living in a residence hall and joining groups on campus — we just don’t know yet. There are so many things outside of classes that make up the college experience, and unfortunately, we just can’t predict what those things will look like because of the pandemic. 

If you are really worried about what your experience will look like, keep monitoring those town hall meetings and the WSU COVID-19 website. Beyond that, you can reach out to an adviser in your intended major and ask questions at Alive! orientation.

I know this information probably isn’t very helpful, but I hope these resources will help inform your decision and make your transition a little less nerve-wracking. 

You got this — and everyone in the Cougar community is here to support you!