December 5, 2021

Pandemic paralysis: Long term effects on students

High school was a time of cliches, sporting events, questionable cafeteria food and…pandemics? 

The entering class of 2025 has not only been adjusting to their new college environments, but also navigating their way back to in-person classes. 

Many students experienced virtual or hybrid learning while others were able to continue in-person classes. 

For a frame of reference, first-year students spent the spring of their Junior year and the entirety of their Senior year of high school facing the challenges that came with working during a world pandemic. 

Now, each student must adapt once more to the collegiate environment and workload and for many, this means having to change habits. 

While my class has faced unique struggles, I have the greatest sympathy for the class of 2024 (current second-years) whose experience was mostly virtual. Attempting to navigate college is already complicated, not to mention having to do so while mostly virtual. 

Second-year student Aaron “Acey” Askew shared that his “first-year experience was pretty unexpected and really anticlimactic… [he] was expecting a lot more, more of an experience closer to what everyone else before [him] had.” 

He further commented that a majority of the clubs or organizations he wished to become a part of  were either canceled or virtual, which lacked the full experience.  

This year, Askew is able to take part in the clubs and organizations he wanted the previous year.

Askew said, “It’s so much better in person.” He even gave a statement for his Tennis team, “Watch us make some noise this season on the courts this year, we are in for an exciting tennis season this year!”

My experience was no different than that of many of my peers. I began my first day of senior year through my laptop camera, dressed up for first impressions nonetheless. 

Our marching band season was rough and short without a competitive season therefore no opportunity to continue our one streak at OMEA state finals. 

When we switched to hybrid, meals were split between the cafeteria and the gymnasium both of which required assigned seating. 

My College Credit Plus courses were completely virtual and I struggled to stay focused for 2+ hour long lectures accompanied by weekly papers. The adjustment to in-person classes this semester wasn’t complicated for me, in fact I was overjoyed. 

I looked forward to physically being in a classroom surrounded by like-minded students and having an instructor to guide my learning process. 

Fellow first-year student Baylee Richardson, a Dual Music Education major, stated the biggest change has been “Balancing my work, studies, and social life”. 

In regards to the impact COVID-19 has had on the performing arts, Richardson said, “I feel as though both directors and students alike have been hesitant in planning events and setting exactions because of fear of COVID-19.” 

She elaborated that Capital has been more proactive to ensure events do happen. Furthermore, Richardson explained a predominant struggle she has faced is the inability to focus for extended periods of time due the adaptations she made during high school which did remain in in-person classes. 

Richardson said, “I was so used to smaller goals and reduced deadlines that now being back in the full swing has been tiresome.” 

Her overall feeling now lies with gratefulness to having a relatively normal year thus far. 

Some students miss the flexibility that online classes offered but they also appreciate the in-person teaching and explanations. 

One student, Michelle Costell, a Theater and Music Technology double major said, “Both [virtual and in-person learning] had pros and cons, however, I prefer in-person classes because of the human connection and interaction with professors if you need help. With virtual courses it practically seemed like you were by yourself with everything.” 

Virtual classes were a new experience to many and was quite the adaptation to make. 

Some students felt as though they were swamped with work with little to no motivation to complete their assignments. Other students felt as though they took advantage of being able to essentially create their own idea of a learning environment without the hassle of having to physically be in the classroom. 

Overall, some students stated they would prefer staying virtual due to convenience and a more flexible schedule, while others are glad to have professor guided lessons and peers to bounce ideas off of. 

Making the adjustment to college life has been complicated simply because of the rapid changes and constant adaptation the past two years have required. 

Nonetheless, with new vaccinations on the incline and a firmer grasp of the college experience, positive outlooks are beginning to seem increasingly possible.

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