Pandemic during first year of college: uncharted territory

Freshman perspective on quarter to come

Perris Larson, Staff Writer

I finished high school on a computer screen.

COVID-19 forced the class of 2020 to lose many of their senior year experiences such as prom and graduation, and then take on the daunting task of the next chapter in their lives: college.

When the virus first broke out, many thought it would only be a month or two of wearing masks, walking empty grocery aisles, quarantining, but that quickly turned into many, many months.

Halfway through summer, many schools nationwide had announced that they would be fully online not allowing any students to move onto campus. Things looked dim. It was frustrating, not knowing what was going to happen.

Being from California, I saw firsthand how the closing of schools statewide impacted my friends from back home. The majority of them were all online, which meant a lot of incoming freshmen ended up staying home. All of my friends were devastated and depressed— and rightfully so. They felt cheated out of their first year of college.

We’ve been told all our lives that our first year of college is the best time to make lifelong friendships and the best place to find out what we should do with our lives. And unfortunately, that chance has been ripped away from a lot of people.

I was devastated for everyone who wasn’t able to go to school in person, and I was nervous about Seattle Pacific University’s decision to open or not.

I dreamt about college my entire life. I wanted to have a normal college experience. I wanted to move in, go to class, and make new friends. I didn’t want to face a virtual recreation of college; I wanted the real deal.

I mentally prepared myself for a very disappointing email. Schools were closing everywhere, what was I supposed to think? COVID-19 affected us in so many ways already, no one wanted more bad news. Everything going on right now seemed to be so unpredictable, anything could happen.

Fortunately, after many contradicting emails, we got the final email that SPU was still going to let us move to campus with a few adjustments. I remember reading it, in pure astonishment. I must have read the email five times because I couldn’t believe it.

I was also very relieved that the money I spent on dorm supplies was not going to waste. I had already talked to some other students in my class and I was so excited that I was still going to meet them in person.

A lot of us are not able to have roommates now, but at least we still have the opportunity to dorm share. We’re still going to have classes, be able to meet up with friends (following social distancing guidelines of course), and enjoy moving into our dorms. It might not be the year we pictured, but we’re all in this together.

We thought the virus was only going to be here for a few months, but the pandemic seems to have taken residence here for a while. COVID-19 has impacted all our lives in multiple ways; not only did it end our high school year abruptly, it put the beginning of our college career in jeopardy. But at least the time of fear and waiting is over, we’re finally going to college.

I refuse to believe that this is our new normal. We just have to have faith that this is just a chapter in our lives, it’s not permanent. COVID-19 will not be gone in a day, but it will go away eventually.

Perris is a freshman studying journalism and communications