Rebuilding a fractured college experience


Emily Dvareckas/The Hawks’ Herald

Students have gone through twice weekly COVID-19 testing since the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year.

Sam Elwell, Opinions Editor

In December of 2018, I received my acceptance letter from Roger Williams University. It was my first-choice school and since I applied early I never had to worry about regular decision deadlines. As someone who desperately wanted to get out of high school, I was excited to start the next chapter of my life, so I took a deep breath and finished the last few months of my high school career. Graduating in May of 2019, I spent that summer getting paid to wash dishes during the day and spending much-needed time with my friends at night before we all headed off to our respective universities. I went to RWU that August made some new friends, changed my major, and was having an incredible time. Then came the pandemic.

The realization set in during spring break last year. One by one, my friends said they’d be fully remote for the rest of the semester. I was one of the last ones to receive the same news from RWU and, despite anticipating it, was still confused. I, along with every other student, wasn’t sure how this was supposed to work. Nevertheless, the 2020 spring semester came and went, and I was hopeful for a better sophomore year. That, however, came with its own set of challenges. About halfway through the 2020 fall semester and into the spring, “Zoom fatigue” began to set in as I struggled to keep up with which classes were online and which were in-person. “Struggle” is the only word I can really use to describe my sophomore year.

Despite all the hurdles and transitioning to online and hybrid learning, I think everyone involved, whether it be faculty or students, did an excellent job keeping RWU one of the safer schools to attend during the pandemic. Twice a week testing for students and faculty allowed the school to easily monitor any positive cases and quickly put affected individuals into a brief quarantine. Also, quick responses by the administration to tighten restrictions for brief periods after positive cases spiked on campus, then loosening them when cases went down allowed for the students to not only feel and be safe but also let them live out their college experience as much as possible. Further, on the school’s response, I have to applaud RWU for holding an on-campus vaccination clinic for students and staff who have been struggling to find time to get their coronavirus vaccines. I truly believe RWU was one of the safest universities to attend during the pandemic.

Though I only had a semester and a half of the typical college experience, the interruption of the pandemic had its good sides as well. When I wasn’t able to hang out with my friends back home over the summer, we connected online and enjoyed our time there either just talking or playing video games. Now, I always try to find time to connect with them while on campus. I’m not sure if I would have kept up with that had we not started during a pandemic. My education may have been interrupted, but, the hobbies and connections I’ve built, along with the learning experiences from my various struggles, has led me to believe that my, as well as many other students, next couple of years at RWU, will be even stronger and successful than my first.