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Freshmen reflect on early college experience during COVID-19

New places, new people and new opportunities—these are all part of the average freshman’s college experience. However, due to the pandemic, many of these experiences, from campus life to the classroom, have changed indefinitely. 

Jackalyn Ballard, a freshman diplomacy major, said this first semester is nothing like she expected it to be. Coming from California, she said she had a lot of plans for her first year at Seton Hall, many of which are no longer possible. 

Ballard said before the pandemic she had always imagined visiting New York City and exploring everything New Jersey had to offer.

“I was definitely not expecting all of the precautions for the pandemic,” Ballard said. “I was expecting a lot more freedom than what we have now.” 

Helen Meyerson, a freshman biology major, had similar sentiments. She said she was not at all expecting the precautions that came with the pandemic and did not plan on learning virtually and being separated from her classmates. However, it did not stop her from enjoying her college experience, she said.

“Given the pandemic, I feel fortunate that I got to come to college,” Meyerson said. “Seton Hall has done a really good job opening and holding so many academic and social activities.”  

Kiara McGaughey, a freshman diplomacy major, also said that Seton Hall has done a good job in its efforts to provide some semblance of the community during this tough time.  She said that while virtual learning has made connecting with others difficult, Seton Hall has helped smooth the transition.

Despite the situation, students said they are making the most of it and trying to safely enjoy their year. 

“My friends and I hang out often on campus, usually talking or playing some sports,” McGaughey said.  

Ballard said she has used this time to grow closer to the people in her residence hall. She said she often finds herself hanging out in other people’s rooms just to relax or study. She has also participated in a few Student Activities Board (SAB) events.

Ballard said she still feels like there is a lack of campus life. She said she is disappointed that her clubs and classes are virtual. While she understands the reasons behind it, Ballard noted that the pandemic restrictions have made it difficult to meet new people and form any lasting relationships. 

“It feels so empty all the time, and all of the upperclassmen I talked to say the exact same thing,” Ballard said. “Most of the kids would usually be in the lounges and going to different activities, but now there is no one.”  

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