by Mariana Panzarella

College. The best four years of your life, right? Or so it was supposed to be. That was before Miss Corona came and rained on everyone’s parade, completely and totally robbed students’ experience. Robbed of the frat parties, robbed of the bars, robbed of the social events, robbed of everything that made college what it was cracked up to be. And what are students left with? School work, classes, zoom, and, oh yeah masks– as if everyone’s acne wasn’t bad enough. Wow, how exciting. The only reason anyone gets the freshman fifteen these days is from a deep depression from the deprivation of social interaction. This leads to several questions like: what was it like before? Was college really the dream everyone describes it like? Were people really out here meeting their future husbands and wives? Let’s see what some current college students have to say.

Natalia Matys is a sophomore at Michigan State University; one of “The Big Ten according to Niche Resources. The reputation of the top ten schools includes the biggest parties, best football teams, craziest frats. All of these things that make tuition a whopping $55,000 per year. “Last year,” Matys says, “I spent both semesters online because they decided that due to COVID cases, they wouldn’t be able to teach in person. It was awful.” The rest of her friends did go away to school that year doing half in person half online. Matys was extremely lonely and what was supposed to be the start to the best four years, ended up being the most depressing year of her life. This year, they were back in person but now arriving as a sophomore, Matys found it extremely difficult to make friends and get involved. She felt isolated and behind. “There are still parties,” she says “but it stresses me out. Obviously, I want to go and have a good time, but I don’t want to be a part of the problem either. Plus, I don’t have anyone to go with besides my one roommate.”

Claire Hackbush is a sophomore at SUNY Geneseo. She decided to attend with her best friend from high school, Caitlin Creahan, and they decided to room together. They live in a suite with six other girls that they met through Facebook. “Freshman year was miserable,” says Creahan. She describes how there was never anything to do and she felt stuck. “The only thing that got us through that year was each other,” says Hackbush, “if I didn’t walk into that school with a friend I think I would have had a really hard time making more friends.” They ended up joining the same sorority and since then have had a much better experience. Although there’s a lot of things the sorority couldn’t do last year due to COVID, they became really close with their pledge class and eventually their bigs. “It’s so much better now. There have been a lot more events this year. I’m just hoping it doesn’t go back to the way it was.” Jenifer Jersewski is currently at SUNY Binghamton which is known to be “one of the most fun SUNYS.” Her school follows NYS guidelines just like Geneseo. “I don’t know. I mean there are parties and stuff still, but for some reason every time I go back there I fall into a deep depression. I don’t know if it has to do with current COVID or if I’m just constantly consumed by the repercussions of the lockdown. I feel like I never went back to the person I was pre COVID. Every time I get there I just want to come back home. I think I just got used to it.”

Madeline Farber is attending Miami University of Ohio. “I used to hate it,” Farber says, “this year a lot of people from high school started their first year at Miami and since then I have been able to cling to them for a more enjoyable experience. But even still, one of my closest friends at the school, Nate, left school and went back home. A lot of people just don’t find it worth it to pay that amount of money and not be happy. Without him I feel lonely, but I have to stick it out. It’s just weird that I’m waiting for these years to be over instead of trying to keep them from escaping me.”

The last person I interviewed was one of my friends from Long Island University, Alyssa Fiscella. Fiscella was a student both before and after COVID. She rushed her current sorority her freshman year and “it was a blast” she says. “There was a new event every day and I was able to meet so many different girls throughout the process. I’m a pretty shy person, so being able to talk to each sorority face to face was really good for me. It also helped me to notice which girls I connected with the most.” Since COVID, a lot has changed about rushing. “Everything is over zoom so it’s really hard to tell if you connect with a group well when you cannot interact face to face. It also sucks because all of our events have either been taken away or moved online which isn’t even close to being the same. Some girls enjoy it all being over zoom because it’s a lot less work and isn’t as nerve wracking, but I think it changes the whole dynamic of what a sorority is supposed to be.”

It seems that COVID-19 has indeed affected a lot of students no matter where they go to school. It is something that has totally changed the college lifestyle and therefore the attending students. Who knows if it will ever go back to the way it was before, but we can hope, right?

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