The Freshman Experience During a Pandemic

I don’t think anyone could have predicted what the year 2020 was going to be like. Back in March, I was a high school senior in my hometown of Glastonbury, Connecticut when it was announced that we were going to be out of school for two weeks. Two weeks led to a month and next thing I knew, the rest of the school year was gone.   

We seniors lost a lot. Our proms, senior class trips, and picnics were cancelled. Our graduations were cancelled or modified. There was no senior week, no senior skip days, no senior prank, and no spring sports season. We never had those last moments with our high school friends and no proper goodbyes. 

Fast forward to August, and yet again, those same high school seniors are still getting the worst of it. So many of us have been looking forward to going to college since the beginning of high school, but this is not a typical college experience. 

We entered an unknown environment, a college campus amidst a pandemic.  

Here are a few of the biggest freshman related problems I have seen on the Bentley campus: 

  • All the Trees residence halls consist of freshmen living in singles. Some got lucky and got placed next to their originally requested roommates, but others were not. We can have someone in the room, but only if they wear a mask, the door stays open, and students remain six feet apart. Those who don’t comply with these rules can risk getting caught and receiving a conduct violation, which results in a meeting where students are spoken to about their mistakes.  

  • Since we cannot easily hang out in our rooms, freshman have resorted to hanging out on the green space at night - that is, until campus police or the administration shows up to break up the large gatherings.  

  • There are freshmen living in the Kresge suites. Many upperclassmen are not happy about this, as that residence hall is normally reserved for them.  

  • Limited in-person gatherings meant that our orientation was completely online. It is difficult to try and make friends through Zoom, although I personally enjoyed making fun of orientation via the private messaging function through Zoom with some of the other students in the orientation groups. However, it was not the same as having face-to-face interactions; it was simply sitting in your dorm for four to six hours a day listening to speakers discuss rules and regulations for campus.  

  • The majority of classes are online. Most people will probably agree that learning in-person is much easier than learning through a screen. The freshman class has never experienced college life before. We have never experienced the college workload, talking to professors, or students from all over the world. This is a new realm for us, and it’s even harder with most of it being online.  

  • Lastly, nothing is more difficult than making friends during this pandemic. I walk around campus and smile at strangers, yet they would never know with the masks we wear. We cannot gather in groups and talk without getting scolded. We cannot eat meals with more than a few people due to social distancing guidelines. Club meetings are virtual, and intramural and club sports are cancelled, so forget trying to make friends through that either.  

Life is very different for the Bentley class of 2024. We are creating a new norm on the go and living our lives day by day. But of course, we are trying to make the most of what we are given.