The CCHS Class of 2020 ended their senior year like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer and fall, many of these students started college. However, just like their senior year, their college experience has been different than previous years because of the precautions and changes that have been made to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 placed colleges in a difficult situation as they had to make adjustments for the safety of their students. Because of the risk of hosting large classes, many colleges have made their classes online, but have opened their campuses to students for housing, dining and other socially distanced experiences. Colleges have implemented Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on their campuses.
University of Florida
Class of 2020 alumnus Mark Zhang attends the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, Florida. He decided to live on campus at UF, with all of his classes being virtual. Although the college experience is different compared to previous years, Zhang is making the most of the experience.
“I think it has been better than I expected [it] to be. Getting involved with clubs and [organizations] is what made the most of it,” Zhang said. “Zoom isn’t really the best way to connect with others, but it still is a good tool. There are also a number of socially distanced events on campus.”
UF has taken precautions to prevent the spread of the virus by offering to test students for it. In the case that a student tests positive, the student and those who were in close contact are sent to a quarantine dorm for 14 days, where meals are delivered to them.
“I believe UF has done everything it can with the prevention of COVID on campus– it’s just up to the students to decide whether they want to abide by the rules,” Zhang said. “People who let non-dormmates into their halls face pretty serious consequences.”
University of Central Florida
At the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida, students also have virtual classes, as well as some in-person and some BlendFlex courses, where students switch between virtual and in-person learning. Testing is offered on campus and students who returned to campus were required to be tested before coming back.
Class of 2020 alumna Chloe Sierra attends this university from home, taking all of her classes virtually, but also visiting the campus often. Although she is not on campus, she explained that there are limits on how many individuals can be in one area at a certain time.
“[I stayed home] because my parents didn’t want to spend money on dorms to be doing the same thing I could do at home,” Sierra said. “[The experience is] similar, more or less, [to what I expected], and then [the] only thing I would change is COVID, so I can have a freshman experience.”
Florida State University
Up in Tallahassee, at Florida State University (FSU), Class of 2020 alumna Alexandra Sansone had a different experience. Sansone opted to attend FSU in person, but after one week, decided to return home because the experience was not for her.
“…I was really excited to get up to FSU, but then I got there and was really disappointed,” Sansone said. “Unless you came up with a friend or group of friends, or were a part of Greek life, there really wasn’t much to do or any way to make friends other than Zoom. Once I saw what it was going to be like, it just didn’t make sense to one, put myself through that emotionally, and to spend all that money to be miserable up there.”
Sansone explained that upon arriving at FSU, she had to take a COVID-19 test and that students are randomly tested during the semester. Most classes are online, and following Thanksgiving break, all classes will be moved online. Like UCF and UF, FSU has taken precautions to keep its students as safe as possible.
University of Pennsylvania
Class of 2020 alumna Carla Luna has had a different experience than most, as she currently attends the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), which decided to go entirely remote. Students were only allowed to return to campus under personal circumstances and must follow CDC guidelines if they do.
Luna’s college experience has been different compared to her expectations. Although being virtual is not ideal, she is making the most of her freshman year at UPenn.
“It’s completely different from the high school experience,” Luna said. “Besides the being on-campus part, I definitely didn’t expect to be working. I currently work part-time at a preschool. I also didn’t expect to make friends the way that I am currently: through Facebook and spontaneous private chats on Zoom. My professors have been stellar and set up the virtual environment to be as engaging as possible. The people I’ve met have lived up to my expectations too, all of them being very accomplished and interesting.”
It is safe to say that the Class of 2020 has had a very interesting and different year. Although their start to college differs immensely from years past, universities have taken it upon themselves to create a safe, yet real experience for their students.
Disclaimer: Alexandra Sansone was previously Managing Editor of The Lariat.
Photo courtesy of Alexandra Sansone