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A Pandemic College Freshman Experience as Told by A Recent Cook County School Graduate

Jan 04, 2021 12:00AM ● By Editor
Photos submitted by Chloe Blackburn.

Editor's Note:  Chloe Blackburn is Boreal Community Media's second student digital media journalism intern.  Chloe is attending Lake Superior College, majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology.  We look forward to her articles about her life experiences.  Boreal is happy to offer her real world reporting experience with this internship - made in part possible by a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation.

By Chloe Blackburn - Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - January 4, 2021.

A pandemic is sweeping the nation, as we all know. So, the question is, what is it like being a college student during COVID-19? For me, it’s all I know, for others, it’s a constant battle to learn through teaching yourself, as well as a constant need for more educational resources. I interviewed my brother and some of my fellow student friends to understand better the struggles, perks, and consequences of being a college student during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I am just finishing my first semester at Lake Superior College, my first college experience. Because of this, online learning is the only type of college I know. So for me, there weren’t many adjustments to make. I really enjoyed online learning, once I got it down. It was a much easier transition from high school to college than it would have been if it were in person classes. I didn’t have to worry about getting a parking spot, catching the bus, being late to class, or even finding the classroom. I got to build my study skills in a calm and comfortable environment, with the opportunity to manage my own time. These are truly the only “perks” of attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although I have not had to make adjustments, my brother David is in his third year of attending a large university, and making the transition to online learning was a massive change. On an academic level, students are finding it hard to stay motivated, and struggling to find the resources to essentially teach themselves. I spoke with a few of my friends who plan on dropping out after their first semesters, like many other students, who are dropping out in hordes. They feel like they are paying to teach themselves, or paying to fail out of school. This is a very understandable move, as why would you want to pay 30,000+ dollars to self-educate? 

On a more social level, students are struggling to be without friends, study buddies, tutors, and in-person discussions. These are problems that both my brother and I have encountered throughout the first semester of our first and third years. For David, his biggest social struggle was the need for study buddies, and the change of scenery that comes with working in a group in designated “study spaces.” For me, the struggle was losing the easiest opportunity to make friends, and meet my study buddies. 

On the other hand, there are students that HAVE to attend class. Although the schools follow COVID protocols, there is a fear factor. These students see their peers, but they cannot interact with them in the same way. Some students don’t follow protocol and this causes even more stress: “should I say something?” “Are they infecting me?” “Do I look stupid wearing this mask?” A few of my friends were required to attend classes in person, and they felt uneasy about the “lack of proper protection”, and the “inability to choose” whether or not they attend. 

There are no easy answers - everyone is doing the best they can in a bad situation. Parents and students are becoming angry with the lack of reduced tuition. Students are becoming antsy, waiting to gather with their peers once again, just like everybody else. So, what is it like being a college student during COVID-19? It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s frustrating to not see friends, to not have discussions, and to not have a clear line of communication between the student and the professor. It’s perks? Easier classes for some, more adjustable schedules, and the opportunity to use your time however you choose. The consequences come in the form of tuition cost, and the lack of education that comes from teaching yourself. Overall, being a student during COVID-19 is no easy situation. It has far more downsides than perks, and much more confusion than certainty. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to attend college in the first place, but I sure can’t wait until I get the “real” college experience. 

 Chloe Blackburn with her brother, David.

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