Because of COVID-19 risks, students were given the option to take their classes remotely. This exception from on-campus instruction applied to only students who needed to be off-campus for health reasons. Others who wanted to be off campus but were not given the option chose not to take classes at all and deferred their studies for the semester or the year.
Now that the end of the year is approaching and students have more perspective and experience on the subject, they have a variety of takeaways regarding their college experiences during the pandemic.
Making decisions about being on campus in the fall of 2020, students had many factors to consider. According to Latrell Crenshaw, a senior from San Diego Calif., it was difficult to want to come back with all of the restrictions set up on campus.
“Everyone got used to being at home, and then coming back to campus where we’re basically on lockdown. We’re being tracked. We can’t do this. We can’t do that,” said Crenshaw. “It’s a really draconian shift in a really short period of time, so I think people came to appreciate more that freedom that they had.”
Other students, including Aminaa Injinash, a first-year from Mongolia, didn’t have the choice to come to Albion in the fall because of restrictions on international travel. Despite this, Injinash said that she knew she was not interested in attending school online. This wasn’t just because of the 13 hour time difference in Mongolia, but also because of the challenges that online classes present.
“For me, I would personally prefer in-person classes, because nothing can replace the eye contact, body language and [connection] between professors and students in my classes,” said Injinash. “I didn’t want to take the online courses because the efficiency of the online classes are not good.”
Since starting her studies at Albion in January, Injinash has gotten involved with many groups on campus. The ability to do that is one of the things she values most about being in person despite COVID-19 restrictions.
“I started to join as many organizations and clubs and communities that I can be involved in, such as Gerstacker, honors and sororities,” said Injinash. “That helped me to get more friends and feel like I belong here. I feel more engaged in this community.”
Engagement with the community and on-campus friends is one of the main reasons for living on campus.
“Being in a campus environment where people understand your struggles, they understand your passions, your interests, and that they can really relate to you on a fundamental level, I think is so important,” said Crenshaw. “You’re getting that engagement, you’re getting that time with people your age, you’re getting to interact and connect with people.”
Though the restrictions this year are not ideal, students still expressed good reasons to be on campus. Many couldn’t tell what the year was going to look like when the fall semester started, but looking back on it now, students see plenty of opportunities to socialize, connect with new people and get involved with campus activities.
For many people, these are just some of the reasons why living on campus is preferred.
“Stick it out, because it really does become worth it at the end of the day to have a system and surrounding of people your age in an era where humans are having a hard time connecting in general,” said Crenshaw. “Having an environment where you can still have some semblance of normalcy I think is so crucial for all of us.”