Graduating from high school and going into college is a right of passage for many, but when you enter during a pandemic, it makes for an interesting first year.
The class of 2024 has experienced a crazy time in the past year with school, from ending their senior year online to heading straight into college the same way, only partially attending classes in-person.
While it seemed as though there was not a lot for freshmen to look forward to, as everything was turning virtual, students were still able to create a good year for themselves and have learned a lot in just a few months.
One thing they learned is that college is a lot more intense than they thought it would be. Computer Information Technology major Brendan Bender said there was a big difference in the workload he got when coming in.
“I was used to the high school work load at first and didn’t really know what to expect with college,” Bender said. “In high school I got about an hour’s worth of homework per week, now it’s more like three hours per day.”
Bender has even spent eight hours straight on an English paper, making him realize college was a lot more serious than expected and he wishes that he would have been warned about it sooner so that he could be a little more prepared.
His advice to incoming freshmen is to be prepared for what is ahead of them when they enter their first year in college as a lot can happen within a year.
“Be prepared for a change,” Bender said. “Find ways to connect to people similar to you, because having friends is a big part of having fun in college and can make the change a lot better.”
When moving into higher education there is a lot of change that can happen that one can try to be prepared for, such as dorm room essentials, school supplies and having the right technology on hand.
There are some things one just can’t be prepared for such as the intensity of classes or having their entire first semester be virtual.
Journalism and technical communications major Devin Bearer said her freshman year has been anything but normal having fully online courses in the fall.
She said it was difficult at times to stay focused and motivated when everything was online and thought it took a lot out of the college experience many expect when they first arrive.
Bearer has learned to make the best of the situation as others around her have, even while socially distancing.
“Both my resident hall and professors were trying their best to make everyone still have that human connection during the spike of the pandemic.”
Having built connections within her classes and residence hall Bearer said that the second half of her first year has ‘definitely been a better experience’. Creating those friendships has helped her gain motivation and have fun making her own college experience.
Bearer also advises incoming freshmen to build connections with others around them, to make college more exciting to be at.
“Follow your passion, follow what motivates you,” Bearer said. “If college is for you, then have fun with those around you, study hard and you’ll do well.”
There are many ups and downs that college can bring, especially now during a pandemic students are feeling the weight of it all, from feeling stress and loneliness to anxiety and being unmotivated.
The University of Michigan Medicine released a few tips on how students going into college can make the best of their year under such strange times. They suggest maintaining a routine, taking breaks and most importantly keeping connected with others.
“I would’ve liked to have known that it’s okay to have days when you don’t want to do your homework or go to class,” Bearer said “Even though you’re in a pandemic, try to meet some of the people you live with. They can help you through it.”
Of course all college experiences are different, but what has helped many students entering their first year has been the community they have been able to build with others, finding their niche and things to keep them going when things seem a bit dark.