Freshman year of college is meant to be a time of self-discovery, meeting new people, and creating life-long memories. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the University of Northern Colorado’s freshmen are having an abnormal first year of college.
In order to have a safe semester, students have had to change their normal behaviors and routines in accordance with new UNC guidelines and protocols for the Fall 2020 semester.
According to the UNC website, UNC leadership is in constant communication with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Weld County Public Health officials in order to ensure that the campus is operating safely.
As a result of the modified semester, many UNC freshmen are struggling to make social connections. Students are required to wear masks when in shared spaces and encouraged to social distance whenever possible.
UNC freshman Anna Yepez explained how it has been challenging for her to socialize with other students.
“I have met some really great people, but it’s hard because I don’t really have strong connections with anyone yet,” Yepez said.
Meeting new people is not the only area where UNC freshmen are facing difficulties. The transition to partial online classes has created problems for many students.
Freshman Tatiana Naab said she feels that her online classes are not as helpful as in-person classes. She said she feels like she is completing online assignments just to get them done, and not learning from them.
“I struggle with feeling like online classes matter as much this semester,” Naab said.
Luke Morelli, another UNC freshman, agreed that online classes are not as beneficial to learning.
“It is definitely better for me to be in person and to have that connection with a professor,” Morelli said.
Because of the necessary COVID-19 restrictions, some freshmen feel that they are missing out on important experiences.
“Not being able to go to football games this fall and other athletic events has been really disappointing,” Morelli said.
COVID-19 restrictions have also made it challenging to join certain clubs and organizations.
“It’s really hard when I know that everybody is pushing for us to get involved, but there aren’t very many opportunities to do that safely right now,” Yepez said.
Despite the restrictions of the Fall semester, there have been some hidden benefits for students.
Naab explained how she needed to step outside of her comfort zone to meet new people and make connections.
Yepez also found a positive outlook on her semester.
“It is easier to take control of my time with all this new freedom,” she said. “I am able to create my own schedule because I have a mix of online and in-person classes.”
While the restrictions and new guidelines present challenges for freshmen, several students said they feel that UNC is doing their best to keep them safe.
“They have been doing a good job keeping us on campus and handling cases, especially compared to Boulder or Fort Collins,” Morelli said.
Yepez said that she appreciates how UNC is constantly communicating with students about COVID-19 through emails and alerts.
While some restrictions and guidelines may be inconvenient and disappointing to freshmen, students at UNC have a responsibility to help keep their campus safe from COVID-19.