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College During COVID

by Cassidy Funke


As COVID-19 spread throughout the world it changed every aspect of life, specifically higher education. Going to college is stressful and difficult on its own but going during a global pandemic makes it much harder. Four Olympian alumni share their experience of attending college during the pandemic. We get a glimpse of what their colleges are doing to accommodate COVID and how the college experience is changing.  


The pandemic is changing every aspect of college education, but what are colleges doing to accommodate it and keep their students safe? Kevin Media a Linguistics major attending SDSU stated, “We don’t have in-person classes they are like on zoom but if you have a lab class you have to come in once a week to school, and you have to wear a mask and you can’t be too close to one another.”  Rianne Elyse Magbuhat a studio art major also attending SDSU added “They’ve been trying their best I can’t fault my professors not knowing how to do online or not having everything transition super smoothly.” San Diego State University has transitioned to completely online since March and will continue that path for this fall semester and spring semester. As colleges undergo changes for the well-being of staff and students education goes into new territory for all, especially professors who have to move their classroom setting all online. Parker Claudio, theatre arts major at Southwestern College stated “They also have done other things for the students like having online learning from having textbooks virtually to you being able to access the professor more.” Southwestern College follows other colleges in moving to virtual learning and the teachers continue to give support to the students when needed as well as be more accessible. Elin Lohner attends the University of Colorado Boulder as a Spanish major also looking to pursue Sociology or Psychology  she stated “They decided that some classes that were large in size those would be online right away automatically, then smaller classes its up the professor’s discretion.” The University of Colorado Boulder is following more of a hybrid approach based on the class size and decision of the professors. All three schools have made changes in an effort to keep the staff and students safe, whether it be completely online or a hybrid schedule most of the campuses are shut down. 


Dorming during the pandemic is something many people are concerned about. Each school has a different way of housing the students. The alumni were split 50/50 when they were asked if they would be comfortable dorming. Both Parker and Kevin said they would be comfortable dorming if it was by themselves, Kevin stated “If it’s just me I don’t think I would be that scared.”  Parker used his brother dorming at USD as an example of how there is one student per dorm and it might even be every other dorm room. “I know that if I was moving in and they had similar measures put in place I would definitely feel comfortable having entire college room to myself.” However, both Rianne and Elin said they would not be comfortable dorming. Rianne stated, “No I wouldn’t want to do it because everything is so strict now, you can’t have people in your room, it's very individual.” Elin added, “I don’t think I would be comfortable dorming because in the dorms sickness is inevitable when I was in the dorms my freshman year I definitely got sick a few times.” Everyone has their own views on if they would dorm or not it's a matter of safety and how the dorms are being divided. 


The college experience is arguably one of the most memorable times in a student’s life but due to the pandemic, the notorious parties are put on hold. Rianne's experience of being an art student has changed in many ways. “There are still virtual shows and galleries you can walk around but it’s still hard because I don’t have that immediate feedback from my professors, I don’t have that in-person connection.” She also added that her choice in classes was impacted by COVID because some of the classes like printmaking, sculpting, or film classes required materials she did not have. Similar to Rianne, Parker’s experience of being a theater art major has changed he explained how he missed being at school by saying how he missed being able to perform “Being apart of theater major you really got to encounter a lot of different people and being able to express yourself openly on a stage and being able to take on a new character every day of every week.” Kevin had a similar feeling to the pandemic making it the experience less of a personal connection, “It’s made me less social because in classes I don’t really interact with other students anymore because before it was like you meet a person and talk with them and walk with them after the class.” Many students are left without feeling the persona; connection to the students and their pees while taking online classes. Elin’s experience is different from the others as she is an out-of-state student who is also part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority nevertheless it has still changed. “A lot of my friends are actually living in the house this year, I was going to live in the house as well however I’m not there right not they are having a great time everything is good so far there are no cases in the house, they are cleaning everything, the sisters are required to wear masks when they are not inside of their room.” Even the typical sorority house experience has changed from being party and having fun to being more cautious and safe. The college experience has completely changed from what it once was, not just the lack of parties but the absence of socialization in classes and the manner classes are taken. 


As the fall semester is completely online for most students and colleges the thought of what second-semester holds continues to linger as the pandemic remains a problem. When the four alumni were asked do they think the spring semester will change and in what way, they had very similar answers revolving around if there is a vaccine or not. Parker stated, “Second semester is really up in the air depending on where things evolve into.” The spring semester is still open to the possibility of being on campus. Elin added something very insightful to her response, she stated: “Second semester is probably going to change at all being reflective of what is happening this semester, a lot of colleges have already closed down because of everyone having gatherings even though it’s not supposed to happen.” The idea of having to close down because of the gathering is all too real for the students at SDSU, recently they have had to close the labs because of a rise in cases on campus. If the fall semester does allude to what the spring semester will look like then one could conclude that without a vaccine it might look the same as the fall semester.  


Colleges will continue to make changes to keep their staff and students safe and the college experience will not be what it once was as long as COVD-19 remains a problem. Until a vaccine is found and COVID-19 is dealt with college will not be the same. At the end of Parker’s interview, he said something that I believe everyone should hear and let sit with them. “I hope that everybody will hopefully understand that they need to be more caring of their actions, and how their actions can impact others, that we really have to learn how to be selfless now and in the future.”


Rianne Elyse Magbuhat attends SDSU as a Studio Arts major. She graduated Olympian in 2018.


Parker Claudio attends Southwestern College as a Theater arts major. He graduated Olympian in 2019.


Elin Lohner attends Colorado Boulder as a Spanish, Sociology, and Psychology major. She graduated Olympian in 2019


Kevin Medina attends SDSU as a Linguistics major.  He graduated Olympian in 2018.

This is Cassidy Funke, she is currently a Senior at Olympian High school and is a journalist for the 2020-2021 yearbook term. Cassidy will be attending SDSU as a psychology major in the fall in hopes of one day becoming a consumer psychologist. She has always been interested in photography and journalism, but will probably just keep it as a hobby. Cassidy can usually be found on the soccer field, at home binge-watching the latest shows, or hanging out with friends. 

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