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  • Imana Adogu

College in a Time of Corona

Starting college is a unique experience that most high school students look forward to. The anticipation of making new friends, continuing their education, and having new experiences bring lots of excitement to those who leave home to pursue higher education. However, in the midst of a pandemic, the ways in which these things occur has changed drastically. Two Athens Academy alumnae, Eleanor Connolly and Taylor Clementz, who attend the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington in Seattle respectively, have managed to create fulfilling starts to their college lives despite the pandemic.

Both Connolly and Clementz agree that the most difficult aspect of this school year is social interaction.

Clementz says that, due to the coronavirus, “most people want to keep to themselves more” and that it is harder to plan things to do with friends because “there are a lot less social events.”

Connolly also agrees that her campus has been unusually quiet and that coronavirus restrictions make it “hard to meet people that don’t live close by.”

On the other hand, both students shared that they have made strong connections with roommates and neighbors, likely due to the bonding experience that has come from these unprecedented times.

Photo of Eleanor Conolley with friends at U.T. Austin football game. Photo from Eleanor Connolly.

While Connolly describes moving into her dorm as a “smooth process,” Clementz’s experience was drastically different from regular move-in days. Two family members were allowed to help her move in and were given only thirty minutes to do so. Connolly, however, was allowed to bring only one family member, but she had the whole day to unpack and organize her belongings.

Although they have had good overall college experiences so far, Connolly and Clementz look forward to post-pandemic life. Both students hope to participate in study abroad programs at their respective universities. Clementz is also looking forward to having in-person classes in which she can interact with her professors and ask them questions more easily. Connolly is excited to explore the music and culture of Austin, get involved in student organizations, and attend college sporting events at full capacity.

This fall semester is not what college students envisioned, and it can be difficult to keep a positive attitude given everything that the world is facing. In the meantime, many college students across the country, including Connolly and Clementz, are making the most of the situation and are still optimistic about the future.