College Life During Covid-19 Pandemic: An Interview with a Bucknell University First-year Student

Ninah Jackson, Political Science, Class of 2025

School is back in session, and I talk with Ninah Jackson a recent graduate of Oxon Hill High school in Prince George’s County and student member of the board of education about her first year of freshmen college college and how’s it going as we’re still in them middle of a pandemic.

1. How’s college life going?

College is definitely going better than anticipated. After being virtual half of my junior year and all of my senior year of high school, it feels great to be back in person – around people and in the classroom!

2. What do you think you are missing out on from the college life experience since you’re in college during a pandemic?

My college has relatively lax on-campus COVID procedures considering that all students were required to get vaccinated prior to the Fall semester. Students are still required to wear masks in buildings, but social distancing is very little enforced, if at all. Because of this, my college experience has been relatively normal! Clubs and organizations are allowed to meet in person, in-person events are still hosted and sponsored by the university, and my classes are face to face.

3. What experience can you share that made you think going to college at this time was the best choice?

During my senior year of high school, I was extremely nervous that I’d struggle academically because I had spent a year and a half learning virtually. I developed new study habits and new ways of processing information from class and became much more of an independent learner. I thought that this would be a pitfall in college, only to find out that learning virtually in high school translated really well to college because college requires students to be internally motivated and more self-disciplined in ways that virtual learning requires students to be as well.

4. What Advice would you give someone that is considering choosing a college?

Start college applications early and put a lot of thought into what qualities you’re looking for in a university. For me, financial aid, academic programming, extracurricular activities, school size, and location were significant factors. For my friends, their criteria looked a little different based on their needs and areas of interest. Also, I’d say don’t be afraid to ask for help – whether from students you know or other community members. It’s also important to prioritize self-care. The college application process can be really stressful at times, especially for first-generation students, low-income students, or students from other marginalized communities. It’s okay to take a break and step away when you need to.

5. What would you like to see in the future to prevent this from happening again?

I would like to see colleges and universities prioritize the well-being of their students over profits – especially students from marginalized and/or underrepresented communities. Coming out of a pandemic, there are many students and families who are struggling to recover and rebuild during this time. It’s important to extend grace – both materially and otherwise and ensure that the university’s resources are being utilized in a way that uplifts and attends to those who may need the assistance.

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