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My Experience with College Online vs. In-Person

I was so excited for college. I couldn’t wait for the whole experience of moving somewhere new, meeting new people, attending really interesting classes, and getting to choose those classes myself for the first time. Especially after being in a pandemic for what felt like forever, the prospect of going somewhere new was thrilling. I packed all of my stuff, but roughly two weeks before I was set to leave for my freshman year of college, I got an email. It said that due to COVID-19, only freshmen and sophomores were allowed on campus in the fall, and they would be remote for in the spring. Though I was disappointed, at least I would be there for the fall semester. What it meant to take college classes at home in the basement of my parents’ house hadn’t really set in yet; I was just happy to be going at all. 

My first semester was, all in all, really good, barring weekly testing and two prolonged quiet periods (also known as lockdowns). My second semester, however, was not great. It was difficult for me to pay attention in class, and motivating myself to do any work was a feat in itself. Group work was nearly impossible — breakout rooms on Zoom are definitely one of the most awkward experiences I have ever had. And outside of schoolwork, maintaining friendships with people you only spent three months with, who live all across the country, is incredibly challenging. Not to mention, I had basically no interaction with any friends outside of texting and FaceTiming them, leaving me with essentially no social life. Luckily, I had my parents, and we were able to spend more time together, which would not have happened if I was at school. In the end, my semester of college at home felt unnatural and strange, which is funny because my grades had never been better (I don’t think I’m ready for that conversation yet).

Now, I’m a sophomore in college and I feel like I am getting to experience what college is supposed to be like for the first time. My classes are in the buildings that they are supposed to be in, rather than the buildings that they got placed in to accommodate social distancing. I also have a roommate, unlike before. It’s going pretty well; we haven’t killed each other yet. I really enjoy my classes and finally getting to meet my professors in person. Because we only had half of the students on campus last semester, going from less than one thousand people on campus to almost two thousand people has been wild. The dining hall is perpetually full of people, and there’s always at least fifteen people in line at the coffee shop on campus. I went to get breakfast at 7:30 in the morning before my lab and there were still lines. I love it though — the campus feels full and it’s really nice. Honestly, I’m just glad to be on campus at all. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

India Berry is a Sophomore at Kenyon College, from Washington, DC. She plans to major in Psychology and is currently questioning why she chose to take chemistry.