With the ongoing effects of COVID-19 still running rampant throughout the student body at Wheaton, everything has changed. Returning students have been faced with seeing their favorite professors over Zoom rather than in class. They are unable to hang out with their friends in the same way as before and both clubs and sports have been greatly affected.
However, for first-year students who have never experienced Wheaton in a “normal” way, it’s a different situation. With most on-campus events being delayed or canceled, the first-year orientation, where traditions are established and upheld, was done entirely over Zoom. Students have expressed their opinion that without orientation, the class of 2024 did not get the same opportunity to build a stronger sense of community like the other classes had been able to in years prior. Some have also had difficulties making friends and establishing social relationships due to the lack of gatherings and with many classes being online. Most students have adapted well to the workload of college so far, and a majority of students state that their social lives are what have been most affected by COVID-19 safety guidelines.
First-year students have also expressed some worry about when Wheaton will have some sense of normalcy on campus once again. Since they aren’t familiar with campus culture without the effects of COVID-19, it begs the question of what will really change for them?
Ideally, Wheaton students will continue to be responsible in how they maintain COVID-19 safety guidelines and procedures, and the campus will be able to return to how it was before. Then, the first-year students will hopefully get to have a real college experience.