The Freshmen Experience During Covid-19: Surviving in the Forest

All around the Reynolda Campus, you hear the now popular catchphrase, “this semester is not like any other”. Almost every adult has said this and sadly these words are true. Covid-19 has disrupted every aspect of twenty-first-century life, especially for university students. The freshmen class of 2024 is not only navigating the hard transition to college but also the challenges of social distancing presented by the current pandemic. There is no guide to how one should handle these unprecedented times, but now that we are half-way done with the semester a new status quo has been set. 

Her Campus: How’s your experience going? Describe what has been good or bad.

When asked, most freshmen speak positively about their experience on campus so far. The all-around attitude is that their freshmen fall is what Brianna High called "unique". Abby Eakle commented that “I went in thinking it was going to be very lonesome, even with a roommate, and I thought I would be by myself, staying in my room, not making a lot of friends because of Covid. But, once you get the hang of it and you meet a group of people, it starts panning out from there and you meet friends of friends, so it’s been pretty good”. Others like Alyssa Provost say that “it has been a lot to adjust to”. She adds, “The most challenging aspect of college so far is keeping track of everything and being organized with all the Zoom classes and different opportunities we have on campus.” And on top of a Wake Forest workload, “college is not at all what I, or many of my peers, would have expected it to be, mainly due to the many guidelines we must follow for our safety” says Brianna High, “but overall it has been fun”. 

HC: Have you found it easy to socialize and meet new people with the Covid restrictions?

Socializing and making friends is a huge part of college and according to Alyssa Provost, “I was surprised how easy it was to meet new people, as long as you reach out then it is possible to meet lots of new people.” One way to meet people, says Logan Wright, “was to interact with other incoming Wake students on social media before the school started and without that, I feel like I would have struggled”. Wake has also provided a lot of opportunities to meet new people. “The campus still buzzes as it would any other year, with students walking in and out of the library, sitting on the quad, and eating meals together outside of the Pit,” says Brianna High.

HC: Have you felt like the student body has done a good job of being safe during these times?    

Despite the current influx of cases, the common thought is that people are doing what they can to uphold the Covid-19 restrictions. “Most people have been doing a good job, wearing masks, limiting numbers, taking it seriously,” says Logan Wright, “some of the restrictions are annoying at times, but I feel like most of the student body understands they are necessary and copes with them”. According to Brianna High, the student body “all shares the same goal of keeping everyone safe and keeping the numbers of positive cases down”. Overall, Wake Forest is a “really positive community” says Maggie Anderson.  

HC: What are your feelings about Zoom classes? 

“I have learned that I am an in-person class person”, says Alyssa Provost, which seems to be the sentiment around campus. But unfortunately, most Freshman classes are online and some, like Abby Eakle, has her entire schedule on Zoom. She says, “I was worried at first about not being able to meet friends and connect with the professor. But so far I enjoy it. It gives me a lot of time to study in between classes and wake up later”. Logan Wright chooses to find the positive side to her Zoom classes saying, “you don’t have to worry about rushing to leave your room or dressing up for class, and as long as you get your work done you should be fine".

HC: What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Part of new experiences is learning new things about yourself. Abby Eakle comments that “I’ve learned I am not good at being by myself, I need to be around people. I get very lonely very quickly”. While Alyssa Provost says, I have learned that you have to trust the process in college because the people you meet in the first few weeks aren’t always going to be the people you hang out with later. Trust the process with social life, grades and everything”. And Maggie Anderson says, “You have to be brave in online classes, but I feel like it makes you more confident in your ability to talk to the class”.

HC: If this is the new normal, what advice would you give to the class of 2025?

“If this is the new normal, the advice I would give to the Class of 2025 is to stay optimistic,” says Brianna High. She adds, “going into college, there’s a lot of pressure because of the change of academic rigor and of living in a new environment”. Alyssa Provost comments, “it is very important to trust the process that everything will work out. It is very stressful, but you will get accustomed to everything and you will find your people. You just have to have faith in yourself”.

Abby Eakle says, “Don’t be that worried about not having a roommate or being in a separate dorm. Once you meet different people, play it by ear, and have a good time.” And Logan Wright comments to “reach out to people over social media before. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, they are more friendly than you think.  Find new ways to have fun, but still work hard”.