Freshman year: expectations versus reality

After graduating high school and deciding to continue my education at Wilkes University, many people asked how I expected my first year of college to go. My typical answer was that I expected to learn a lot from my professors’ lectures, make new friends, receive a decent GPA and enjoy my time on campus.

Yet, it never crossed my mind to add completing my first year of college during a global pandemic to my list of expectations.

Although the end of my first year was different than how I imagined it to be, and at times stressful due to COVID-19, my first semester did not stray too far from my original expectations. 

Regarding my fall semester classes, I took a lot of general education courses outside of my major of communication studies, which were required for me to take. I did not have an interest in taking most of those required courses, but at the end of the semester, I realized I learned a lot from all my professors. 

Even though I learned a lot from those classes in my first semester, I decided when scheduling for spring semester came around, I would take some more courses related to my major. 

I even took a new course, Global Cultures: Issues & Perspectives, that was being offered for the first time by professor Dr. Gina Morrsion, whose FYF: Going Global class interested me during my first semester. I enjoyed both of her classes so much that I decided to add global cultures as a minor, which I did not expect to do in my first year at Wilkes.

I am also thankful for the new, exciting friendships I’ve made while attending Wilkes. I was hoping to meet new people and was fortunate enough to be able to do that as a result of the many different opportunities provided by the school. 

I made some friends at orientation and in classes my first semester, and I got to know others by joining clubs like UNICEF and the school’s newspaper.  

The first thing I noticed when I came to the university was that almost all the upperclassmen students were welcoming and friendly, which surprised me because I thought most of them would be closed-off due to their studies and work. Nevertheless, the upperclassmen I encountered always offered a helping hand if needed and made sure I was comfortable adjusting to the college lifestyle.

Just when I thought I was getting used to attending classes and balancing studying with having a social life, my time on campus was cut short in the spring semester because of COVID-19. This was quite disappointing because, after experiencing my first semester of college, I was excited for what my spring semester would hold. 

I wanted to try doing work outside on the greenway or walking around town with my friends while we enjoyed the beautiful weather and flowers in bloom, but in reality, I was meeting my professors and classmates online from inside my bedroom back home, as we all tried to get through this new, yet chaotic moment in our lives.

The end of my first year at college was completely unexpected and a struggle to switch from face-to-face instruction to online instruction. 

But, I did not let this obstacle deter me from finishing off the year how I envisioned. Fortunately, my hard work paid off in the end, and I received a 4.0 GPA for my spring semester, allowing me to check my last expectation for my first year of college off my list.