First-year college students like music education major Anna Merrill had a lot of expectations for college- and they didn’t include the global pandemic. The class of 2024 has had to face new challenges while starting college with the COVID-19 pandemic shaping their current education and college experiences.
“COVID has greatly affected college for me, and I feel like any college student in the country can say that as well,” Merrill said. “Online learning isn’t how most people learn most effectively, but we have to adapt to this new learning environment, and that can be difficult to get used to.”
Merrill also said that despite the hard work of the music department, her computer speakers don’t carry over other students’ voices or instruments as well as real-life rehearsals.
As this new learning format has added to her motivational struggles and loneliness regarding the isolation from her classmates, Merrill hopes that TWU could provide more social events for students to connect next semester, especially if the pandemic continues into the spring.
Despite these setbacks, Merrill went on to praise TWU for their readily available mental health resources and positive atmosphere regardless of the current situation.
“TWU has done a great job in welcoming me,” Merrill said. “Any questions I had were answered over the summer, and staff and students reached out to me to make sure that I was prepared and ready to start college.”
First-year dental hygiene major Sydney Nichols also shared similar sentiments regarding her expectations for college and her experience at TWU.
“I had a lot of expectations for college, and all of them were exceeded,” Nichols said. “With COVID, it has definitely been a much different experience than what the typical freshman experience would be. Not being able to have office hours with the professor and the multiple online classes have been difficult, but TWU has made this experience great so far, especially with everything going on.”
One thing Nichols said she is looking forward to is the upcoming acceptance to an on-campus sorority where she can’t wait to make new friends. Although the experience has been mostly positive, Nichols said there are changes TWU could make to help not only current but incoming freshmen.
“One way the college could support the students during this time could be giving us discounts on certain things or special options,” Nichols said. “Not everyone feels comfortable living on campus with COVID, but they are required to if they have online classes. The parking situation is also something that I would’ve changed for next year’s incoming students.”
Despite changes that could be implemented and the pandemic that continues to affect first-year students’ college experience, Merrill is just one example that freshmen are still able to find a college they feel will be their home away from home.
“Even though TWU is a small campus, it is beautiful and such an amazing place to receive an education,” Merrill said. “The professors, staff, everybody is amazing. Everyone here is so helpful, and I feel so welcome and am very glad that I have found my home away from home for the next four years.”
Catty Tomaszewski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: First-year students move in to Parliament Village for fall 2020 semester. Photo courtesy of TWU Housing and Dining.