Written by Morgan Mack
College means different things to different people. Some attend solely for the educational purposes. Some attend for the experience. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges all over the world have been forced to change completely. Never have college students had to adapt to such an unprecedented situation. By nature, many students enjoy attending parties, participating in social events, and interacting face-to-face in the classroom. The typical college student in the world of COVID-19 spends most of their class time in front of a computer screen, foregoes parties and social events, and rarely travels to campus.
During the pandemic, students lack the experience of what it means to attend college. Without social situations, students become isolated. Most students find solace in social interactions to relieve stress. Virtual events and meetings with friends, while adequate, are nowhere near the same as in-person meetings. COVID-19 conditions in college pose a multitude of questions regarding how students are affected.
Jillian Kurta, senior-political science major said, “My ideal way to wind down prior to quarantine was to go blow off steam with my friends by hanging out, partying, and socializing.” Kurta lives in the on-campus dorms and expresses feeling isolated from the rest of her peers due to social distancing measures.
Dorm life has been different for Carlow students due to the pandemic, and unfortunately, some students have not been able to return to dorm life. Skye Roache, sophomore-political science and data analytics dual major, expressed her hesitancy to return to campus due to the unsafe conditions posed by COVID-19. Roache has not returned to dorm life for the safety of herself and her family.
A common theme among Carlow students is a lack in motivation when continuing online learning. “With virtual learning I’m am unable to get the hands-on motivation I need,” said Danielle Akamba, senior-social work major. “I miss seeing my classmates. I miss group work. COVID-19 had made it harder to schedule study sessions with friends because I’m not sure if they been exposed to the virus.”
Social distancing regulations has made in-person connections a thing of the past for now. “The lack of in-person interaction has been difficult. I feel it is difficult to cope with the changes occurring in the country. Dealing with the changes in the world of COVID-19 have been very mentally taxing and the lack of social interaction has made it more challenging,” Kurta said.
On the other hand, students are adjusting to the change of learning style and enjoying school again. “The main difficulty from switching to online has been the anxiety around everything,” said Roache. “At the beginning of the pandemic, it felt like everything was crashing and burning. Trying to carry on with school in a different facet felt impossible. But now since it has been so long, having school online feels like a good distraction from everything else happening.”
Also, some students are utilizing the online platform to give other areas of their lives more attention. Akamba said, “I like the switch because I can work more, but I hate the switch because I’m still being charged for all the expenses while I am not physically attending school, which isn’t right.”
As a student, I can attest that the transition from pre-COVID-19 to the Fall 2020 semester has been difficult. I am a transfer student who was just beginning to embark on my Carlow career. After spending 3 years at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), I finally was able to transition to Carlow. I loved everything about the university from the campus, to the in-person experiences, and the friends I made along the way. As I reflect on my short time of conventional attendance at Carlow, I am thankful for my experiences. But, the change to mainly online instruction has made the whole college experience lackluster.
Some students are dealing with the switch in strides, while the disconnect from campus proves more challenges for some. While Carlow students may be disconnected physically, we can all do our part in making the distance seem less daunting. In times of crisis, community support always prevails and will keep us afloat—until we can close that six-foot gap.