Graduating DePaul University Senior Jane Andrews shares her experience navigating college during COVID-19 and shares why greater investment in MAP grants will benefit many more student journeys—especially after a year like the one we’ve had.


BY Jane Andrews, Graduating Senior at DePaul University

To begin with, education has always been a great foundation for my life. As I’ve always been a go-getter, education was another way to identify myself and break away from stereotypes surrounding young adults. I knew DePaul University would be the top choice to receive my Bachelor’s degree from, and after starting my post- secondary education there, I felt like I was powerful and had a lot more to offer.

However with only two and a half months into attending DePaul in-person, the pandemic hit and left me to take my classes online instead. It was a major change for me, because I never took online classes before, but with the support of understanding professors who were also figuring out how to cope with the pandemic, I converted to remote learning very smoothly and discovered there were many pros that came with online classes. It gave me more time to do hobbies that I normally wouldn’t have time to do. For example, maintaining good mental health is important to me. I would meditate and do yoga for 30 minutes, twice a day. This improved my durability and helped me perform better in my studies. Not having to worry about how I was going to pay for classes particularly during the pandemic, probably helped me perform better in my studies as well. There could’ve been a term where I didn’t receive MAP grants — but I was very blessed — I qualified for and received them. However, I had a lot of friends who skipped a semester or even withdrew from school because the costs were too much and they didn’t receive enough financial aid. During a crisis where money is involved, it can be very unpredictable, and I’m grateful to have received what I needed to help me during my academic journey.

Now it’s been over a year and we’re progressing with vaccines and back to in-person instruction, however I won’t be returning to DePaul this fall for school, because I will be graduating this spring! I never thought that I would be living during a pandemic, but history has been made! The pandemic has opened our eyes. It showed me that the biggest obstacles can result in greater outcomes and showed the impact of higher education and what needs it needs to have met. The work doesn’t stop here until higher education is made as affordable and equitable for ALL students to start, continue, and finish their academy journey — even in a crisis.

Jane, a graduating senior at DePaul University, is a member of the Partnership for College Completion’s Student Advocate Board, a group of students who regularly meet and work to advance the goals of equitable funding for Illinois’ public colleges and universities.