Experiences among students may differ greatly, especially during a pandemic. (Photo by Josh Meitz)
Experiences among students may differ greatly, especially during a pandemic.

Photo by Josh Meitz

PATEL: First-year expectations

April 21, 2022

The media, people’s stories and even a college itself may tell you that your first years at college may be “the best years” of your life. However, someone’s first year in campus may not be picture perfect, especially amidst a pandemic. 

Everyone’s college experience is different and many first-year students have false expectations. It doesn’t help with the pandemic playing a big part too.  

To meet people, students have to put in effort to meet others. Many people meet others in college by spending a lot of time with them such as through housing, classes, work, clubs or anywhere on campus. not only does it take effort to meet people in college, but it also takes opportunities–both of which are diminished by COVID-19 and virtual schooling.

According to The National Center for Educational Statistics, 73% of college students attended school virtually for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Camille Carlson, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, like many other students, attended school virtually last year at Marquette.

“It was hard to make friends when you’re only talking through a screen with everyone’s camera hidden,” Carlson said. “I had different expectations about college but I didn’t know the pandemic would happen too.”

However, other students have had a more positive experience at Marquette.

Selena Hernandez, sophomore in the College of Nursing, recalls her first year living in the Nursing Living Learning Community in Carpenter Tower. A Living Learning Community is a designated floor for all nursing students to live on so they can get to know one another better and help each other with their classes. “It was easy for me to meet new people because we all lived on the same floor. I am still in contact with all of them today,” Hernandez said.

Many hardships first year students face is major switching,

An estimated 80% of undergraduate students will change their major at least once during the four years of undergrad. The reason might have to do with difficulty or change in interest. But it is easier to connect with people over shared hobbies and interests than not having anything in common.

It is also common for first year students to not have the best experience living with a roommate.

Living with a stranger or someone you hardly know might work to your benefit. Not every person will be friends with the person they live with. It may have to do with different living styles, cleanliness preference, morning routine or personalities. It’s common for first-year students to change their living situation too if things don’t go well.

It may be difficult to connect with people at first as college can be a new experience for everyone. This is the first time that people are living miles away from their childhood home, living with a roommate and managing classes. This can definitely take a toll on a first-year student who is embarking adulthood and this new chapter in their life all at once.

There are many false perceptions about college and students have to understand that every experience is unique to each individual. Many first-year students and students new to Marquette need to understand to not lose hope and enjoy find their passions on campus. Whether that mean joining a club or organization, getting involved with volunteering, or even exploring the city, students need to know that they make the difference for their college experience and to trust their choices and what the future has in hold for them.

This story was written by Krisha Patel. She can be reached at krisha.patel@marquette.edu

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