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COLUMN: Tackling the COVID college experience as a freshman

Leona Falconer

Throughout this school year, I’ve constantly been reminded that I truly haven’t experienced normal college life. 

Even when things begin to feel ordinary, I’m reminded by older students how far from normalcy Central Michigan University still is. As a freshman experiencing my first year on campus, I'm isolated both academically and socially. My perception of college has become incredibly warped by the state of the world.

Leona Falconer and her roommates outside of Larzelere Hall on the first day of classes.

My first day of classes left me with hope for the year to come. My HON 100 class was filled with dozens of students in a giant lecture hall, each one socially distanced and masked up.  Perhaps there would be hope for a somewhat-regular year.

Unfortunately, my first day was an outlier.  Quite quickly, my HyFlex classes began transitioning to fully online. My only in-person classes were filled with three to four people.  Before I had even gotten a taste of regular academics, I found myself fully online. I was rooted in my dorm room day-in and day-out.  The days became monotonous, leaving my classmates to question the hype surrounding the “college experience."

Busy work was piled on relentlessly. I found myself yearning for the comradery that was able to exist in high school classes.  

While online learning was less than ideal, the missing social aspect is what truly began to take its toll.  I completely respect and agree with CMU’s decision to allow HyFlex and online courses, but it quickly became a dreary prospect.

Of course, the tailgates, parties, and sports events were great losses, but I found myself truly frustrated with the little things that COVID had changed.  Even as I desperately tried to get involved and meet new people, the transition to online modalities permeated throughout every activity, Registered Student Organization, and event.

While previous freshmen worry about attaining the most memorable “college experience," I've found that after five months at CMU, we've barely begun to make social connections.  

We’ve become elated at the thought of gyms and restaurants being open, hanging out in the dorms, or going to an in-person class.  Experiences that were once boring activities to most students have become the foreground for our freshman experience.

A particular fear that has stuck freshmen this year: Will we ever truly experience normal college?  

The future remains uncertain, and many freshmen are nervous for the years ahead.  However, if we focus on the small silver linings and continue working to normalcy. Hopefully, this year can be an outlier to the greater experience.

In a brand-new environment, freshmen have had to quickly adapt to a whole new way of life. We should be proud of ourselves for any accomplishments made during this trying year.