When Jack Hyde first got accepted into SUNY Buffalo State, he was looking forward to living the college dream. He had always heard of the independence and freedom that college comes with, and was excited to be able to live his own life. Before he could move in though, the world was hit with the Coronavirus pandemic, and suddenly school was no longer the escape he dreamed of.
“The covid restrictions changed a lot of what I thought the first semester was going to be like. I barely got to go have fun, I mainly stayed in the dorms most days”.
Hyde is just one of many freshmen who have had their college year turn out dramatically different than what is expected. Due to the pandemic, schools across the world have restricted in-person meetings to only what is needed, leaving most students trapped in their dorm room, unable to go out and socialize like is expected.
“My first two weeks on campus we were under restriction to stay in our dorm building. No leaving and food will be brought to your floor everyday with beverages. The food was not great and me and my roommate Kevin hated the first two weeks there. Being stuck only doing school work and watching shows was not the great start off to the college experience”, said Hyde.
A freshman at Saint Lawrence University, Ryan Wilhelm, has had many similar experiences to Hyde at his first year of college. Much like Hyde, Wilhelm always imagined college to be one of the most exciting times of his life. When his school created restrictions similar to the ones at Buffalo State University at the beginning of this school year, Wilhelm was worried he would miss out on this once in a lifetime experience.
“I expected the entire year to be online and practically no fun”, said Wilhelm.
For Wilhelm, his one escape came in the form of rowing. After winter break, restrictions on athletic teams were somewhat lifted, and he was allowed to practice with his rowing team.
“With covid I did not expect to have a season and be able to experience what it’s like to attend college athletics. My crew season was the highlight of my year because of all the amazing people I met and how we all suffered and grinded through the season. I feel like going through this year with them made us even closer than if we didn’t have to experience covid during a crew season”, said Wilhelm.
At the other end of the college experience, seniors are having their own struggles finishing their last year of school. Cassandra Jansen, a senior at SUNY Brockport, has struggled with finishing her final year of school and competitive swimming with heavy restrictions on both. At times, she wishes covid could’ve chosen another year to cause issues.
“Missing out on senior year, a senior swim season, and a normal graduation sucks. However, if this just happened our sophomore or junior year , then the people who were seniors that year would be missing out on everything, and I wouldn’t want to wish this on anyone else”, said Jansen.
During the winter season, Jansen and her team were unable to even practice on a regular schedule, often not knowing each week if they would or would not be able to practice that week. But after winter break, her and her team were given the opportunity to practice regularly. Despite being well past the normal season length, Jansen was glad for the change.
“When we came back, we were able to practice as a whole team again. I was happy to be able to do that because practices are much more fun when the whole team is together. Also, the ability to still have an event like Dancing with the Athletes, which is something fun for many teams to enjoy was made possible due to those lightened restrictions”, said Jansen.
As Cuomo has announced, when students return to campus this fall, vaccines will be required. Because of this, it is expected that campus life will largely return to normal by the end of this year. While seniors like Jansen will be unable to make up that lost time, freshmen like Hyde and Wilhelm are excited at the return to normalcy.
“Of course I’m excited for next year”, said Hyde. “Hopefully with vaccines, covid will not be as big of an issue, and we can go out and see people again. I definitely don’t want to spend another year of college stuck inside again”.