What is it like to be a Freshman during a Pandemic?

Maryville College, like many schools across the country, is facing new challenges this fall about how to encourage student engagement and learning. While this is very important, some may forget about the specific challenges that freshmen are taking on this fall.

Many incoming freshmen had their school year cut short this past March due to a COVID-19. The dream of walking across the stage were cut short for some. Others missed the everyday schedule of being in school. Those high school seniors are now college freshmen who are making the most of Maryville’s hybrid approach this fall, while facing many new challenges.

Many of the freshmen have faced various challenges in just these past months such as the mostly online resident hall meetings or having no long breaks until Thanksgiving. Even with these challenges, many opportunities are still available in the MC community such as joining a club or being a part of a sports team. 

Another piece of good news for freshmen is they get to be in-person at various points during the week unlike many other institutions this fall. Many freshmen are experiencing difficulties and triumphs in numerous ways.  So, what has been difficult, and what has been rewarding?

As for Josue Alexander Monroy Ochoa, a first-year Bonner Scholar student from Murfreesboro, Tenn., he is still missing the in-person instruction.

“The most difficult thing about being a freshman at MC during COVID-19 is that classes are online,” Ochoa said. I prefer in-person classes because I learn better in-person than virtually and I think everyone could at least agree with me.”

Chardon Wood from Oxford, Ala., who plays defensive tackle for Maryville, is experiencing the change of workload from high school to college.

“Well I can say the change from being a high school senior and ending our year early to being a college student and hitting the road running with classes was tough,” Wood said.  “Like college without classes the first couple weeks was great then classes hit.  The classes are  kind of like high school but at a faster pace, very hard to keep up with if you don’t stay on top of your work!” 

Even with the difficulties, some freshmen on campus have learned new perspectives and how to appreciate the new norms. Freshmen commuter student, Emily Miller, has seen the mask as a positive for student life.

“Even with the mask enforcement, students can grow out of their comfort zone,” Miller said. “For example, students can use masks as a sense of safety or comfort while doing things that might usually make them feel intimidated.” 

Rosalinda Oceguera, a freshman from Memphis, Tenn., has enjoyed the benefits of not having a roommate.

“Coming into college during a pandemic was scary, but there are benefits,” Oceguera said. “For one, I love having my own room. I could not imagine having to share my space with someone during these times. I also somewhat like having hybrid classes. It can be a lot of work, but it is nice being able to work on my own time and everything feels more flexible.” 

Even with the difficulties this fall that freshmen face, many are making the most of this historic year. There will be no freshman class quite like the class of 2024.

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