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The Antelope

The Antelope

First year students adapt to college amid pandemic

Students were given the opportunity to move in periodically throughout the week.

As the semester begins, freshmen are entering with even more questions amid coronavirus uncertainties. Starting college has become even more confusing with new guidelines, changes to welcome events, and general anxiety.

First Year Program leaders are trying to make the transition to college easier.

“We always joke about first year students with their lanyards on, looking at a map and trying to find their class,” said Brette Ensz, assistant director of the UNK First Year Program. “They are going to be that way, and there’s going to be more of that because they just haven’t been able to be on campus.”

 With their final spring semesters consumed by lockdowns, freshmen must now say hello to life on campus without properly having the chance to say goodbye.

“Graduation, obviously, was up in the air, and that we were all worried about,” said Kelsey Borowski, an elementary education freshman. “At first it was, are we just going to do it online or are we going to do anything? That’s kind of how we’ve all felt this summer, like getting ready for college but not done with high school.”

Despite the uncertainty, Borowski plans to get involved on campus.

“In my school, we had athletic and Fine Arts which were super important to me, but we didn’t have a lot of extra clubs because it was a pretty small school,” Borowski said. “And so I am very excited to do Greek life and Intramurals.”

Other students shared similar experiences in schools across the state. With classes moving online, many found a large part of their education missing from their senior year.

The story was the same for many 2020 high school graduates.

“At the beginning of March, there was a week going to school where basically everyone was running around and that was the only thing we were talking about,” said Jamie Pierce, a communication disorders freshman. “The first two weeks, our staff were not able to implement any new things that we were supposed to learn. After that, a lot of our stuff I would say was completion grades.”

For some, classes going online meant an end to school work entirely.

“It was a very large mess,” said psychology freshman, Adam Nelson. “I mean, we got past the third quarter and our fourth quarter was entirely online. And really the fourth quarter didn’t hardly matter just because they said that your grade wasn’t allowed to go down, so most kids just didn’t do their homework.” 

Nelson moved onto campus early for band camp and said he isn’t too worried about the semester.

“I personally don’t have any concerns apart from my asthma, which probably is going to get in the way of wearing a lot of face masks,” Nelson said. “I’m also pretty excited about getting to meet a lot of new people and being able to be part of a new community.”

UNK still hopes to welcome first year college students with open arms.

“They’re not going to be able to be a part of student organizations like you know, or participate in events that you got to participate in,” Ensz said. “So much of what we’re doing is virtual that every connection that they have with you is important. The biggest thing that non-first years can do is continue to make it a community.” 

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