Incoming Freshman face challenges and changes from COVID-19

Student pictured: Addy White

Student pictured: Addy White

Abby Hall, Staff Writer

Being a freshman in college already comes with many life lessons, challenges, and changes. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year’s incoming class were thrown even more curveballs than the normal freshman should encounter.  

The pressure of your future, finding friends, discovering who you are and learning how to be a functioning adult without your parents guiding you every step of the way are all expected challenges.

Dealing with a global pandemic, numerous social movements, a chaotic presidential election, and experiencing their first semester of college online were not anticipated obstacles. 

On top of everything else, Pensacola was hit hard with a category 2 hurricane only a few weeks after the fall semester began.

To say that may freshman feel out of routine and are currently lacking the motivation to stay on top of their schoolwork is an understatement. 

“Online school has been hard, and I’ve been extremely unmotivated especially since the hurricane hit,” Freshman Chloe Eiser said. “COVID has prevented me from being able to make friends and having a typical college experience.”  

For a freshman, even more so for those who have come to UWF from another city, making friends is crucial in their first year in college and it normally comes naturally from being in classes, going to events, and just simply being on campus.

Because they are unable to do that this semester, sorority recruitment numbers were higher than previous years, despite it being online, because it is one of the few ways to still get connected in the community right now.

Establishing a routine during COVID is already difficult, but the category 2 hurricane canceled classes for a week and a half, pushing back assignments and allowing everyone to have a break in classes.

Some people might joke about having time off of classes as being a positive thing in previous years, however in times like these having an unexpected break isn’t always good.

“I never imagined having college classes fully online,” Freshman Addy White said. “It’s so much tougher not having a physical place to go for class. I feel like I was already thrown out of my routine with COVID and the hurricane pushed me further back than I already was.”

It has been extremely hard for new Argos to feel comfortable adjusting to life in college, and honestly who could blame them. 

“This year has been completely unexpected and honestly I feel very lost,” A UWF Freshman said. “I know that things will be back to normal eventually, but it is really hard to deal with everything that’s happening and be so focused on college life at the same time.” 

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors had the advantage of spending a year or more at UWF when everything was normal, so even though they are also dealing with the challenges 2020 has brought, they were able to have the time to establish friend groups and are already used to the college routines.

But thankfully, the freshman are not alone and share the experience with the other hundreds of thousands of incoming freshman that began college this fall.

Although things are very different with the new structure of clubs and events, there are still ways that freshman are able to get involved and meet people while still being safe.

Many, if not all, clubs and organizations are still taking new members and are holding meetings virtually. 

Clubs are always a great way to get involved at a university, but even more so with the times that we are currently in and the limitations that are required. 

The UWF library, commons, and gym are open with restrictions, but still provides a way for students to get a change of scenery and even safely meet up with classmates while wearing masks. 

The UWF Facebook page has had multiple threads of freshmen who have started group chats and exchanged information to get to know others around campus. 

You can also always reach out to classmates virtually via the “people” tab in your Canvas classroom. This is an amazing way to connect with others in your courses and can lead to starting study groups, email threads, and helping each other with the class when motivation is at an all-time low. 

Freshman, hang in there. 

You are dealing with a lot more than upperclassmen ever had to experience in your first semester of college and you are extremely strong for doing so.

The rest of the world is also experiencing the chaos, and even though everyone’s challenges are different, we are all still struggling together.