After a year of primarily distance learning and little clarification for students on Shippensburg University’s next steps, the effects are becoming more obvious in all of us.
Without any breaks save for two randomly placed Raider Rest Days, the burnout is bad — especially knowing there are still five more weeks left in the semester.
It can be hard to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For seniors, this is our last experience with college, and for freshmen, this is all they have ever known. They came here for a traditional college experience, to make their families proud, to play sports, for a world-class education, but they are left with anxiety, burnout and an urge to drop out. The lasting effects of the past two semesters may be detrimental to the class of 2024.
Working with freshmen as a tutor this semester has given me an in-depth look at this problem and a desire to shed light on this growing problem. I sat down with a few freshmen and listened to their stories this week.
“It’s not the traditional first-year experience,” freshmen Elijah Warren said. “But at least we’re getting our credits.”
Some students wonder if they should have taken classes at a local community college instead to save time and money but were drawn to Shippensburg by our formerly stellar first-year program.
Freshman Allison Frick said that the first-year experience and UNIV-101 seminar required for freshmen have been difficult to enjoy.
“This could be a lot better in a non-COVID environment,” she said. “I understand that they can't have so many activities happening and are only trying to keep us all safe. But it's just frustrating. It’s hard to get involved.”
Freshman Courtney Mayne agreed, adding that it’s “incredibly hard” to make friends.
“I feel very isolated,” she said. “Most of the activities are on Zoom, which removes the [traditional] socialization. [Zoom] was very new to me, this being my first semester. I thought it was incredibly important to be able to meet friends, but I have not really been able to.”
Spring 2021 classes have been incredibly demanding on everyone, with strict attendance policies and little room for accommodation. For freshmen adapting to college life, this increases the difficulties.
“I feel like no one tells us anything,” one freshman said.
There has been little clarity on anything for the past year, with emails from the administration typically only promising to unveil plans soon.
“I think I’m just going to take a gap year until this is all over. I’m tired of the confusion,” said another freshman.
How can SU continue to sell itself as a world-class education if it is only causing world-class stress and confusion? I worry for the retention rates in the upcoming years and can only wish our soon-to-be sophomores and incoming freshmen the best of luck in the uncertain waters ahead.