Congrats to This Year’s College Freshmen

It’s been quite a year, for all of us.

It’s hard to think of anyone who has not been affected in some way by the global pandemic of COVID-19. From the elderly, to the health care workers, to the unemployed, to the families with young school age children, this past year has disrupted our lives.

But one group that perhaps not much thought has been given to are this year’s college freshmen.

This group of students are the ones who missed out on their senior year of high school, and all that brings with it. Prom, graduation, senior week – all gone.

But at least for many of them, they had going off to college to look forward to.

While such an event likely causes some stress, for most students it’s a time of excitement.

A time to move away from home and live on your own. A time to meet new friends. A time to think about what you want to do with your life. A time to pursue your interests. A time to stay up until the wee hours of the morning and talk about how you are going to change the world.

But a lot of that was put on hold, thanks to COVID-19.

Instead, freshmen have had to deal with wearing masks, maintaining appropriate social distance, taking classes from their dorm room, eating in small groups, participating in activities virtually.

They haven’t really gotten the chance to know each other like they normally would (and neither have I).

They haven’t been able to go to basketball games, one of the highlights of the college experience at our school. They have also had to keep their group gatherings small; so much for having that collective experience of cheering their team on.

Many of them have had to quarantine either because of testing positive for the virus or having been contact-traced to somebody who was. Just more isolation.

And the result of all of this?

Stress.

There seems to be a lot more stress among my students than in past years.

I think the biggest stress is worrying about whether they will stay healthy.

But close behind worrying about your health is thinking that the college life isn’t everything you thought it was going to be, and blaming yourself for such thoughts.

You haven’t made the friends you thought you would. You haven’t got involved like you thought you would. You’re not getting the kind of grades you’re used to, despite your best efforts.

And thinking about all this just adds to your stress level. You think there’s something wrong with you.

However, despite all this, you’ve hung in there.

You still recognize what a great opportunity you have, to be at college.

You’ve become incredibly resilient.

You’ve learned how to navigate online learning, in its many forms.

You’ve learned to take advantage of the creative opportunities the college offers for you to socialize in a healthy, socially responsible way.

You’ve maintained a positive, cheerful, respectful attitude.

After every class, it seems like everyone one of you says “thank you”.

No matter what or how you are feeling that day, you manage to utter those two words.

To me, those two words say more about you and how you have successfully managed to get through this year than just about anything else you could say or do.

You’ve been grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by your peers.

You’re optimistic about what the future holds, and know that this is just temporary, a fluke.

And I know that you are going to come out of this stronger than you can imagine.

So congrats to this year’s freshmen. You’ve impressed the heck out of me…

42 thoughts on “Congrats to This Year’s College Freshmen

  1. So, is the school year over, already? I thought it ended in May, for college students.

    I’m no fan of most of the Covid restrictions, given that states which have had less restrictions seem to compare the same with those that have had more, in terms of cases and hospitalizations. It seems to me like most of the crap the freshmen and everyone else have had to put up with has served no useful purpose. They’ve just been exercises in futility. So I hope the freshmen learn from this, and in their future efforts to make the world a better place, they’ll be more circumspect than the current yahoos in charge, about taking away everyone’s freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. no, we are about halfway through the semester. I just felt the students needed some recognition and encouragement before the semester was over.

      You sound like one of my sons, who has the same opinions about the lockdowns in that they were completely unnecessary. For me, it’s a tough call, and I’m glad I’m not the one who had to make it. And it wasn’t just inthe U.S.; there were global lockdowns, so that’s why I don’t think the lockdowns were politically motivated, or we wouldn’t have seen such nearly universal adoption of lockdowns. Maybe lockdowns work, maybe they don’t. But you have to try something, and then learn from it moving forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know about the initial political motivation, but political sides have certainly been taken on this issue, with liberals seeming to be more in favor of Covid restrictions than conservatives.

        I agree about having to try something, and it’s indisputable that things have been tried. But whether or not we’ve learned from our efforts, does seem subject to dispute.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree that in the U.S. it seemed to turn into a political issue, but I’m not sure if it’s the same way in all the other countries that used lockdowns. People in our country just likes to argue with each other, I guess.

        And let’s hope there’s some good solid research after all this to see what we have learned…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the freshmen get to read your post. You composed a real tribute to the commendable way they have handled a situation they never anticipated. The patience and discipline they displayed to overcome the challenges of these times should serve them well later in life as it is likely not the last time they will have to deal with serious disruptions to their expectations. They will all have great stories to tell their grand kids about how tough things were when they were in college.

    I wish my profs were so thoughtful. Maybe they were and I’ve just forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that this should be a real learning experience for the students in terms of how to deal with setbacks.

      I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful students…

      Like

  3. I like this post a lot, Jim, especially knowing that your students thank you at the end of class. I’ve had a few friends retire this year, and I remind them that they will enjoy it more when they can resume travel and other normal activities again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Pete!

      And yes, I am sure that people retiring now are not experiencing what they thought it would be like. It’s good that they have you to tell them that it will be better!

      Like

  4. Great post Jim! I have come away with two things from your message today. One is a greater understanding and respect for these freshman who have displayed true resolve and adaptation. Second is recognizing that the impact the pandemic has had on my life is small compared to what others have had to work through. Thanks for the perspective!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks, Brad! I am lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful students; getting through COVID will be a great learning experience for them. And yes, I also feel lucky to have not been affected as much as some people have…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. it must have been very hard for them for all the reasons you mentioned and even more for some. they have learned some incredibly valuable life skills and lessons this year that many will never do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for writing about the struggles these young people are going through. My kid has to do ALL of the classes on zoom from home. Was very disappointed at first, but is making the best of it. Thanks again for thinking of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for your feedback, Deb. I’m sorry to hear about your child’s situation, that is a tough way to go to college, especially when compared to expectations. But as you note, your child has learned to adapt, and that is a great life skill to develop…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My daughter, a college freshman has had just about as good a college experience as any kid I’ve ever heard of (pandemic or not). She has a tight group of friends, is playing (touch) rugby, is using her campus and her college town. She’s never complained about covid in any way. I’m so happy she didn’t just give up at the start. I think her optimistic approach really saved her.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That was a thoughtful post, Jim. And I applaud what you say. I must say, though, that the teachers have probably had a tougher time of it. The trouble is, in the West, most of us have got used to things being a Certain Way and take so much for granted. The Covid pandemic, hopefully a unique event, is one of those things that comes along every generation or so and derails normality. Like WW2, for example, when lives were, at best, put on hold for 5 or 6 years. The youth part of a generation might have had was spent in uniform – those that made it. Unlike war, we can’t (probably) blame anyone for the pandemic (not yet, anyway); it is just one of those bad things we have to get through. Picking up on one of your contributors – how can anyone seriously suggest that lockdowns are politically motivated? That’s bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for your insights, Michael. You are correct, comparing the disruption in lives now is nothing to what the younger generation experienced during WW2. But I think many of them do feel stressed, and then that stress leads to a whole host of health problems.

      If they can successfully manage that stress, then I think they will come out of this stronger…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. THANK YOU!! I’m a college freshman and this past year has been the worst 😦 even now, with online school, I can’t see anyone or meet new people. It’s very lonely at times, but you gotta look on the bright side 🥲👍

    Liked by 1 person

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