For the past 7-9 months, life has been a series of ups and downs. In March, everyone’s life changed. Jobs closed. Businesses shut down. School was virtually nonexistent.
However, the graduating classes of 2019, specifically those graduating high school, felt the impact of COVID-19 differently than the rest of us. This includes Capital University’s newest first-years, who felt the heat of COVID-19 since the end of their high school careers continuing through their first year in college.
Alannah Giesey, first-year social work and psychology major explains how her life has functioned since COVID-19 first hit. She was a graduating senior during the time that the pandemic took off, which ruined her graduation and senior prom, both of which were luxuries that anyone before that graduating class had. Giesey still had some sort of a graduation, but to her, it wasn’t the same.
Mental health is one aspect that was hindered during the pandemic for first-years as well. Not being able to go anywhere for the summer or get out of the house per usual took a toll on her mental health. Not only was her mental health impacted, but since Giesey has been at college, her social health has declined. She found that it has been more difficult to talk to people and make friends.
“I feel that COVID-19 has affected me a lot emotionally,” Giesey said. “I feel that it worsened my depression. Many people are struggling physically and mentally and COVID has had a huge impact on mental health.”
Audrey James, first-year financial economics major with minors in finance and sports management, was a senior in high school when the pandemic first started.
For her graduation, there was a drive up graduation ceremony. As much as it hurt to miss the senior activities, she understood.
“I actually didn’t mind how they organized our graduation because it was more time efficient and personal,” James said. “The trips I missed out on I know I will be able to go on once it is safe to do so.”
James spent most of her summer working two jobs since she could not go on her summer trips. She worked with college age students which made it more enjoyable to work.
Following the summer, moving into college was different than she expected mainly because she did not have a roommate. She currently lives in Lohman.
“Most of the typical stories you hear about freshman year of college include crazy situations with roommates and I don’t have that,” James said. “As different as it is, I like having my own room, and the friend who would have been my roommate, is right across the hall.”
It took some adjusting for her to get used to the online and hybrid model classes, but since she took two AP classes online in high school, she became acclimated pretty quickly.
Regarding the pandemic in general, James believes that there needs to be more of “coming together.”
“There is a lack of consistent and reliable information, however, we all need to come together (not literally) and take precautions to protect each other until we have an even better understanding of the virus and how to combat it,” James said.
Shayla Trimmer, first-year who was also caught in the midst of the pandemic, holds a similar optimistic view. She was finishing up her senior year of school, just about to start some of the senior activities.
“We were just about to start some of the senior activities, like the senior tag, that I had looked forward to since I was a freshman,” Trimmer said.
Due to COVID-19, she was required to finish senior year online. The job she held at the time was closed for a few weeks as well. She was not the only one in her household affected. Her parents were affected, including her step-dad who was laid off due to the pandemic.
Trimmer did not always take the pandemic seriously. As others did, she did not believe that the pandemic was as serious as it was out to be.
“When things first shut down I thought everyone was exaggerating,” Trimmer said. “I saw multiple students cry and hug their friends because they were afraid we weren’t coming back for the rest of the year, and I thought they were crazy. Looking back on it, I wish I had told everyone goodbye.”
However, she believes that regret is behind her.
During her summer, she rarely left her house like the rest of us. She observed people going on vacations and hanging out with large groups. At first, it felt unfair, but she knew she could have done the same.
“I know I could have done the same if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t feel right putting someone’s life at risk,” Trimmer said.
Social life has been difficult for her to adjust to as well with there not being any in-person activities. It has been hard to make friends. However, she joined a sorority which has led her to meeting tons of new people. She is looking forward to when they can meet each other in person for the first time.
Adjusting to online school has been easier for her than expected since she has had to do it so much, she has just become accustomed to it.
“I actually like that I don’t have to attend every single class in person and I can just do schoolwork in bed,” Trimmer said.
As far as living on campus goes, there has been a lot of strict rules for dorms such as getting fined for going up or down the wrong staircase or having unapproved guests in the building. This has contributed to her struggles with making friends, but she feels as if she has become more independent when it comes to living on her own.
Overall, Trimmer feels as if these rules are tedious, but necessary to getting back to somewhat of a “normal.”
“Everything has been very difficult to adjust to, and I believe that we could have ended the pandemic much sooner if we had stricter rules from the beginning,” Trimmer said. “I understand that all of the precautions are to keep people safe, and I am more than willing to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID. I just hope everything ends soon so that I can have a normal college experience.”