Samantha Schreiber, a freshman journalism major, was supposed to finish her first year of undergraduate studies. She planned on joining other clubs on campus as well as continuing her involvement in club track.
“I missed Temple the day I left and I don’t know if I can go a whole 10 months without seeing everyone,” Schreiber said.
Due to the quickly spreading coronavirus, the university moved to online instruction and urged students living on campus to move back home by March 21, The Temple News reported.
Schreiber’s father picked her up on March 14, taking her from Morgan Hall South back home to Newport, Pennsylvania.
“A city was a big change that I was finally getting used to, and now I am thrown back into rural [life] and have to adjust back to my old ways,” Schreiber said. “It honestly makes me feel like I’m in high school again, just being home all the time.”
More than 1,000 universities and colleges across the U.S. have switched to remote learning, affecting at least 14 million students, said Bryan Alexander, a Learning, Design and Technology professor at Georgetown University, for CNBC.
“I think I am most disappointed about missing out on the warm weather that was starting to come,” Schreiber said. “There is so much you can do when it’s nice out on campus, so it was disappointing having to leave my friends and the atmosphere.”
Freshman broadcast journalism major Emilie Cochrane also had to say goodbye to exciting opportunities, like reporting for Owl Sports Update, Temple University’s weekly live sports show.
“Owl Sports Update has been a dream for me to get involved in ever since I got accepted into Temple,” Cochrane said. “Sadly, I was scheduled to have my first package of my freshman year right before this pandemic occurred. I was super excited to report for it as kind of like my debut on-air, but I’m just praying Temple will open up in the fall so more opportunities can open.”
Katy Schiela, a freshman health professions major, was excited at first to go home and take classes online, but soon yearned for her lost time on campus.
“I liked the freedom to do whatever I wanted as long as I got my school work done. I also liked trying new places to do my work around campus,” Schiela said. “I was looking forward to walking around campus and not rushing into a building to become warm. I was excited to see everyone having fun just hanging out and buying ice cream from the ice cream trucks.”
Deanne DeCrescenzo, the director of New Student and Family Programs, said she sympathizes with first-year students as they miss their first spring semester at university due to COVID-19.
“From my perspective, there are traditional activities that we all, collectively, are missing out on,” DeCrescenzo said. “While I know that it’s been disruptive for their first year at Temple, this experience is not something that any of us will quickly forget.”
Nhat Nguyen, a junior entrepreneurship and innovation management major, emphasized the importance of a freshman year to a college student. Nguyen said his first year, especially the second semester, played a significant role in his college career, specifically in academics and feeling like he belonged.
The class of 2023 did not get those same opportunities, Nguyen said.
“They didn’t have the ability to transition like I did, which could impact how they approach learning,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen had advice for younger students who may be feeling discouraged.
“Keep your head up, because even though your freshman year was cut short, you still have the next three years to look forward to,” Nguyen said. “Also, once you get back to campus, treat it like it’s your freshman year, and learn skills, time management and prioritizing better, that will help you in the future for your life post-college.”
DeCrescenzo reminds students that feeling saddened by the shortened semester is completely understandable.
“There is a lot to grieve during this pandemic and there is no right or wrong way to feel or be in this moment,” DeCrescenzo said. “My message to students would be that it’s totally valid to be missing their new life on campus.”
DeCrescenzo added this is an opportunity to create stronger connections during this shared experience.
“I think it will make being back in community together that much better,” DeCrescenzo said.