Starting college during COVID-19

Emma Garcia, Assistant News Editor

Nearly every aspect of normal life has been affected by the spread of the Coronavirus, and it’s associated disease COVID-19. Businesses and industries have been greatly affected, and unemployment has reached levels that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression.

Higher education has also been impacted during the pandemic, whether it’s in the area of applications and admissions, tuition, student loans or teaching, COVID-19 has made a substantial and lasting impression on colleges and universities. They were thrown in the deep end and forced to convert to online courses while dealing with financial crises and other unanswered questions.

COVID-19 has forcefully reconfigured the modern day teaching styles and learning experience for students. While it has presented many challenges, it can also be seen as an opportunity to break out of old habits and create new and impactful ways of learning that take advantage of technology.

With many college campuses across the nation closed amid COVID-19, freshmen at Western Illinois University are feeling grateful for the opportunities they’re still able to have during this ongoing pandemic. “I’m very thankful that I’m able to be here on campus and still get some type of college experience, while remaining safe and getting my education,” said freshman music major Sarah Lanoue. “After the disappointing end to our high school careers, we were holding onto the thought that everything would be better in the fall, and for the most part, it has.”

Even though things look differently this semester, everyone is trying to adapt and overcome the ongoing changes, while staying positive. Freshman Chloe Curl said she was excited to participate in Greek recruitment, but couldn’t help but be disappointed when she found out it would all be online. “I was very nervous at first because I didn’t think I could genuinely connect with new people over zoom,” she said, “In the end, I’m so thankful I joined and got involved even though it was virtual, and we couldn’t engage as much.” 

For the students on campus, college life is as close to normal as it can get while still following proper protocols and socially distancing. However, for those who have stayed home this semester to solely remote learn, school hasn’t met their expectations. Freshman Maya Steinke has been virtually learning from her home in St. Charles, IL after multiple doctors made it clear it wouldn’t be safe for her to live on campus. “I thought that being online would be fine, mostly I thought it would have to be fine because there was no way I would miss out,” she said, “It’s been weird. I still live with my parents, my little sister is still in high school, both my parents are teachers and they teach from home, so there are four of us with different schedules doing school from our small house.”

She said that classes are easy to keep up with for the most part, but Western Online can be hard to navigate when there’s so much room for miscommunication, especially when you’re learning from miles away. She went on to say that, “College is certainly not what I thought it would be, but I’m hopeful that someday it might be!”