College: Then versus Now

In these times, students find themselves thinking about what college would have been like if COVID was not around. Pictured is our reality, robots delivering your food, masks, and people standing six feet apart. 

It’s 10 a.m. on a brisk Tuesday morning. Campus is bustling with faint murmurs of acquainted classmates walking through the MU quad. You were up late studying for your midterm the night before, and the nerves begin to set in as you can see the building you’re walking to in the far distance. 

Beep beep beep. The sound of reality hits and your alarm startles you up for your remote class starting in less than ten minutes. You jump up in a panic, throw on  the first shirt you can find from your closet and open your laptop in preparation for the next few hours of Zoom. 

While listening to your professor through the computer screen, your mind can’t help but begin to wander. What is now a dream used to be an everyday mundane college routine. 

If there is one thing we can confidently say the world has learned, it’s never take things for granted. Live life in the moment, and be grateful for things like a routine filled with normality. 

We’ve all gone through hardships this last year. We’ve all laughed, we’ve all cried and we’ve all had days where getting out of bed seems impossible. A world we once knew feels out of reach. 

One way of gauging how different this thing we call life now is, is to hear the perspective of students who are ending their educational career amidst a global pandemic. 

Erin Schuh, a soon to be college graduate from Oregon State University studying Human Development Family Science, knows this concept quite well as she begins to end this chapter in her life. It’s been very hard for her and her friends to accept the fact that she was quite literally cheated out of her senior year in college. 

While the future is worrisome for these soon to be graduates, what about the present? Schuh will never again step foot in a big lecture hall with a room full of her classmates. 

She will never again attend a football game from the student section with a large group of her friends. And most importantly, she will never walk across the stage at Reser stadium and receive her diploma that she’s worked these last four years for. 

What a strange world we all now live in. A year and a half ago, the word “zoom” referred to a moving vehicle. Now, it’s in our everyday vocabulary. 

While this may not be how anyone predicted their college experience going, it’s the new normal and all we can do is hope for life to turn back to what it once was.

And hope is exactly what freshmen like Carmel Corri are holding onto. What seems like a simple concept of walking on campus and sitting in a classroom, that’s what Corri is most looking forward to when life seems back to normal. 

“Really just being on campus. I know that I can walk on campus now, but it just feels different,” she explains. She says how she’s excited to actually meet people in class, since it’s very difficult forming real connections with peers her age in online classes.

Credits to all of the freshmen who still came to college this year knowing no one from their hometown. Especially for out-of-staters. 

Being so isolated from all of the people around you who, on normal terms, you would be getting to know with your family hours away. All of those feelings of being alone that seniors like Schuh may have faced their senior year, try that feeling but times a million. 

What people once knew as “dorm storms” are now old ancient legends. 

“I stepped outside of my dorm room and immediately got written up,” says Samantha Rand, a freshman from out of state who is living in Finley Hall. 

She explained a story about when she tried to meet people from her dorm, and how this is a perfect example of how impossible it is. 

A couple of months ago there were fire engines outside of her dorm, so naturally everyone was curious and trying to figure out what was going on. A lot of them were in the hallway talking to each other, with their masks on and everything. 

She talked to a few of her neighbors for the first time all year, and was really hoping this was her opportunity to bond with them and get to know them. They were laughing and talking for a little while, but not soon after the resident assistant  came out and told them they needed to go back to their rooms.

With seniors like Schuh not getting a graduation, and freshmen like Corri and Rand not getting a proper freshman experience, what we once knew as college is a completely different concept. A time warp, if you might say, where robots now bring you food and campus feels like a ghost town.