COLUMN: Conquering college while being away from campus


I wake up to "Not Over You" by Gavin DeGraw playing on my phone as I roll out of bed at 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. I eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and sit down at my dining room table. I am ready for my 9 a.m. class.

When I first arrived on campus in Fall 2020, I was excited like most other freshmen. I was looking forward to meeting new people, getting closer with my roommates and taking on the college experience. I remember my mom telling me about how during her college experience, most people’s doors were open in the residence halls and people would stop in to say, "hi."

I knew that life as a student would be different, I just didn’t know how unique it would actually be. Dorm life was not how my mom described it. Beddow hall felt like a ghost town. 

Whenever I stepped foot outside my room for a change of scenery, I passed by maybe two people at most. I wouldn’t know if that's changed because I decided to get out.

I moved back home for the Spring 2021 semester mostly because of the amount of money I was spending for a nontraditional college experience - which was just under $10,000. This is no one’s fault but COVID-19’s. There was nothing I could do except hope for a more normal college life the next year.

My routine during the week is pretty straightforward. I wake up, get ready and go straight to my computer to attend my WebEx meetings for the day, doing homework and grabbing some food in between classes. 

One of my struggles is my short attention span. A lot of times during my lecture classes, I catch myself going on my phone, scrolling through Instagram, or talking to people on Snapchat. Staring at a screen all day is not something I would choose to do.

Technology issues are recurring, which creates a frustrating aspect of online learning. When a professor teaches from home with crappy Wi-fi, I can't help but feel more disconnected.

Group chats for each class come in handy for that problem. When I feel like I am the only one struggling to pay attention or can’t understand a word my professor is saying, sometimes it helps to know that everyone else is in the same boat. 

Life at home isn’t all bad. Most days I get the house to myself during the day, which eliminates a lot of distractions for me while I do my homework. I also feel like I have more time to get caught up on homework or hang out with a friend because I don’t have to take the time to walk to class. 

An extra year at home gave me a little more time with my family and friends in Grand Haven. Although I miss the independence I felt during those few weeks on campus along with the feeling of starting a new chapter of my life. 

Living at home makes me feel like I took a step backward instead of moving forward.

I want to go back to the days before meeting new people wasn't talking to a glitchy face on WebEx. I want to be able to talk to someone without feeling guilty for possibly spreading germs. I want to come back to campus. But the only way that's possible is if we think beyond ourselves and make efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.

Hopefully next year, in the fall of 2021, I can try experiencing a more traditional college life again.