As high school students, we were presented with the challenging task of transitioning to online school — a format that was completely foreign to us. Whether it was adapting to taking classes at home, learning the structure of Schoology, or even just getting used to the new block schedule, this major change has been unique and difficult at times. Nonetheless, we must recognize that our change in circumstances is quite minor compared to others, especially college freshmen. Not only have college freshmen all over the country had to make these same adjustments, but they have also had to move away from their home and the people that they rely on all at once.
Being a college freshman in 2020 is a type of experience that no one has had to go through before. After years of anticipation and waiting to get the full college experience, the typical college lifestyle has now been completely altered. Guidelines restricting the ability to meet new people through clubs, sporting events, and parties have been put in place to protect students from COVID-19.
Past Editor-in-Chief of the Spectator, Katie Radner, elaborated on some of the obstacles that she has had to overcome at The University of Michigan thus far, “It was very challenging to find spaces that were available to do work in other than the dorm room. Because the school is trying to limit the spread of COVID, they closed many study rooms that students used to be able to work in. As classes are online, I was spending too much time in my dorm and needed to find different places to study.”
Many universities have even closed on-campus housing, sending freshmen out of their expected dorms to either find an apartment or go home. Because of this, making friends over screens has posed a major roadblock in attempting to start a new chapter. With frequent COVID scares and positive tests, lots of students have even been told to stay in their own dorm unless they need to get essential items or have been taken to “COVID dorms”.
Berkley and Spectator alumna, Brooke Hines, has had some difficulty transitioning to college life due to COVID. When referring to these challenges she stated, “Finding fun yet safe things to do is tough… Online college is a challenge because you basically have to teach yourself everything.”
Fortunately for Brooke, Grand Valley State University has kept the dorms open, while other schools have not. Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Spectator last year, Wendy Klunk, started at Northwestern University in September, but when the school shut down housing to freshmen, Klunk had to remain at home.
Klunk mentioned that she was having difficulty with clubs being virtual. She disclosed, “clubs being online is really unfortunate because I’ve met some cool people but have no way of hanging out with them outside of the club meeting.”
Nevertheless, with every conflict comes a probable solution. Klunk, Hines, and Radner all show that this is true. In response to the difficulties Hines has faced so far, she remarked, “staying busy with outside sports or activities is nice. I try to find creative things to do like hike or visit downtown.”
Similar to Hines, Klunk has been able to find ways to keep herself content even in “social isolation”. She manages to do this by visiting her high school friends regularly at The University of Michigan.
Furthermore, Radner is no exception to this as she says that, “Talking to high school friends is very comforting in this process as we are all struggling in a new place and going through the same thing. However, with time, I have become much more adjusted and feel more settled at school.”
Klunk has consistently found the many bright sides of her unique situation, “I am really learning a lot and am being challenged academically. My classes and professors are great and I do not have the distractions of all the fun things that go on on a college campus, so I have plenty of time to commit myself to my classes.”
Hines explains she has learned that, “Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and not be worried about if people are going to judge you because everyone is pretty much in the same boat. I’ve already learned that trying new things that you may not have tried before can end up becoming hobbies.”
Although this abnormal period has presented a full plate of obstacles, Klunk, Hines, Radner and college freshmen all around the nation are displaying the ability to adjust to the circumstances, while simultaneously staying positive and learning important lessons that will stay with them forever.