Campus Coronavirus News

Incoming freshmen anticipate changes to campus life amid pandemic

Virtual final exams are one coronavirus-related adjustment disappointing some incoming freshmen. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Virtual final exams are one coronavirus-related adjustment disappointing some incoming freshmen. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

With the coronavirus pandemic cases climbing in Harris County, some incoming freshmen have lowered expectations for college extracurriculars to proceed as anticipated, though academic plans have mostly remained the same.

Some incoming freshmen feel hesitant to get involved on-campus with health concerns related to the coronavirus present.

“I really wanted to be more engaged in on-campus activities and events, but I’m not sure if that’s even safe to do anymore,” said business freshman Mateo Dehoyos Gonzales. “But the organization I really wanted to join, Camp Kesem at UH, is still going to be active as far as I know, so everything’s not too bad.”

Accounting freshman Nahom Teka also said his extracurricular plans had to shift once the pandemic struck. He still looks forward to playing basketball but hopes he will be able to explore the campus more after conditions improve. 

For Teka, as with many others, looking over degree requirements and choosing classes hasn’t changed, with the exception of online orientation

“I definitely would have liked to have an in-person orientation, just to meet some of the people I’ve been talking to on social media and stuff,” said psychology freshman Julianna Smith.

She added that online orientation seemed well-organized, especially when factoring in the limited time that the University had to create the online program.

For Smith, the most disappointing changes have to do with the campus environment. She is holding back on getting involved in choir in order to reduce the risk of catching or passing on the coronavirus.

She also is disheartened in having to miss out on a traditional college experience during her freshman year because Fall 2020 final exams will be held online.

“I was kind of excited for the dreaded ‘finals week’ experience,” Smith said, adding that she had been looking forward to “staying up late, library constantly full of people, studying, everyone hopped up on caffeine and sleep deprivation.”

Because of these online finals, marketing freshman Brianna Walker says she wishes classes could start a couple of weeks earlier so that students wouldn’t have to worry about studying after their Thanksgiving break.

However, she says that it’s not too big of a deal. Her plans to go through sorority recruitment and join a business-related student organization haven’t changed.

While the others worry about the nature of online final exams, Dehoyos Gonzales is also thinking ahead to his housing. Since he doesn’t plan to stay on campus for the remainder of the semester following Thanksgiving break, he wonders if there will be any adjustments in housing costs.

Despite their concerns, some members of the class of 2024 maintain enthusiastic and look forward to what they will still be able to do when they arrive on campus.

“I definitely want to meet as many people as I can, and I still hope to do that in whatever settings are available next academic year,” Smith said. “If that means social distancing, wearing masks and bringing hand sanitizer everywhere, I’m completely okay with jumping through those hoops to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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