Adjusting to college life with COVID-19

Students spend their leisure time in areas designed for social distancing. (Rachel Allen/McDaniel Free Press)

McDaniel students are in full swing of the Fall Semester. Students’ time on campus has allowed them to discover and adjust to college life with COVID-19.

McDaniel has taken a lot of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The changes have caused students to make adjustments in their daily lives. A core part of college students’ lives are classes. During registration in the summer, students were given an option to choose from classes that were online or hybrid (a mix of online and in person).

“I chose hybrid classes because I felt like since I was spending the money to be on campus, it was worth it to take in person classes,” stated freshman Morgan Crouse.

In previous years, classes were always in person; making the adjustment to online learning a big change. Some students have found it easy to adjust and are enjoying learning from the comfort of their dorm.

“It has been really easy to adjust to the way classes are. I actually enjoy online learning and being able to do it from my dorm has been super nice,” said sophomore Kameron Ellison. Ellison is taking one hybrid class and one online class.

Professors have worked to help students during these times. Class functions are a lot different this year, both in-person or online.

“One of my professors allowed us to work on a project in our dorm instead of in class because it was a lot of sorting. She said she understood if we did not want to do it in our masks,” explained freshman Hannah Burke.

McDaniel has provided students with the option of eating in the dining hall or taking food to go. There are various options to eat on campus: Englar Dining Hall, Hilltop Pub, and Casseys Corner are common eating spots for students.

There is an app called “Mobile Order” available for students. On this app, students may reserve times to sit in and eat in Englar Dining Hall or take food to go. The Hilltop Pub and Caseys Corner only offer take-out orders and do not offer seated dining. Students have expressed it was easy to adjust to the new style of eating on campus.

“One of the easiest adjustments to make was the process of reserving meals and food,” stated Ellison.

Students often feel safer choosing grab and go options when having meals and decide to eat in their dorm.

“I think it is convenient to be able to get whatever food I want and bring it back to the dorm, [because] I am also staying safe and not being exposed to many people while eating with my mask off,” explained Crouse.

Besides classes and food, housing is a large part of the college lifestyle. Students were given the option to reside on campus for the semester. If a student did not wish to reside on campus, online classes were available for them.

“I chose not to live on campus; all of my classes had the option to be online. It did not make sense to pay for overpriced housing when I could do all of my classes in my room,” said freshman Tyler Andorn.

Andorn explained there is a downside of living off campus, especially for a freshman. Although the classes are accessible online, there is not much opportunity to meet new people in person on campus.

“It sucks [living at home] though, I can’t meet new people for the first semester,” commented Andorn.

Freshman Nia Roberts chose to live at home for the Fall semester. She explained she had doubts of how long students would live on campus.

“It was easier [to stay home] because it helped financially and honestly, I thought everyone was going to get sent home early,” commented Roberts.

Other students thought living on campus was worth the cost of residing on campus, despite the changes to the college atmosphere.

“I decided to live on campus because I wanted to get the full college experience. I also feel like I work better on campus than when I do at home,” said Crouse.

Resident assistants (RA) always play a huge role in ensuring campus residential living goes smoothly. However, COVID-19 made being the job of an RA different and more difficult than other years.

Jada Stump is an RA who signed up for the job before COVID-19 hit.

“When applying last year it wasn’t something that was expected to be a part of the job,” explained Stump. Dealing with some people who say they don’t believe COVID-19 is real and don’t want to follow the rules can get to be annoying sometimes, especially when they want to be rude and disrespectful to you for simply doing your job.” Stump continued.

Stump has found it difficult to find the balance between being a peer and being a mentor.

“It’s been really challenging as an RA to basically have to be the COVID police to my peers,” stated Stump.

Despite the unique conditions and challenges COVD-19 brought to RA’s, Stump feels rewarded to be able to help.

“I’m thankful for my residents this year. They’ve all been so kind and respectful as well as made my job ten times more enjoyable. It’s rewarding to see them succeed and know I’ve been able to help,” commented Stump.

Students who decided to live on campus agree that McDaniel is taking all the proper precautions.

“I think McDaniel is taking all the right precautions, I feel like they are going a great job; which is why our case numbers are so low,” affirmed Burke.

Students are constantly seeing headlines online about colleges being sent home because of a spike in COVID-19 cases; but are proud to go to a school that is handling COVID-19 well.

“I feel good about the precautions McDaniel is taking. Compared to other colleges, the policies really seem to be limiting gatherings and socializing within buildings,” said Crouse.

As a part of the effort to stop the spread, McDaniel has surveillance COVID-19 testing every week. McDaniel chooses random students to be tested.

“The random testing, I believe, helps a lot to pick up on any outbreaks. I personally feel really safe on campus because of all of McDaniel’s precautions,” stated sophomore Megan Harman.

The McDaniel community has been forced to adjust to the new life of college with COVID-19. Students have found value in adjusting united and together.

“It is not too difficult. I think it has been easier to adjust to wearing masks and the social distance because everyone is doing it so no one feels like the odd man out,” explained Harman.

COVID-19 came with unexpected changes to everything in college. The virus shows the importance McDaniel has to students. Despite all of the shifts in everyday college life, the majority of students thought it was worth coming to campus.

“I wanted to experience college, no matter what changes were made due to COVID-19,” said Burke.

Students agree no matter the changes, they want to be living at McDaniel, on the hill. 

“I decided to come back to the Hill because it’s my home,” affirmed Stump.