Freshmen reflect on college experience during pandemic

With the inability to cram all of Baylor Nation into a stadium, many students are appreciative of the effort being made to include them in the Baylor traditions. Cole Tompkins | Photographer

By Mary Watson Vergnolle | Reporter

The university that Baylor’s class of 2024 chose to commit to has changed a lot in the last year, and life on and off campus looks very different today.

The freshmen classes at universities nationwide have had an untraditional college experience due to COVID-19. Many of those students were already denied major high school events such as senior prom and high school graduation.

Dallas freshman Lily Nussbaum said she was “really excited” when she toured Baylor before the pandemic.

“I even got the opportunity to sit in on a couple classes,” Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum said she has found it more difficult to collaborate and meet peers in her classes due to the pandemic.

“Because my major is so creative-based, it can be sometimes difficult to develop ideas, make friends and collaborate outside of the classroom,” Nussbaum said about her film and digital media major. “I am grateful for safe alternatives such as discussion boards and interactive Zoom calls with classmates.”

Allen freshman Caroline Kemp said that she respects Baylor’s efforts to hold as many in-person events as possible in an effort to incorporate freshmen more seamlessly into the community.

“Sometimes I don’t feel as absorbed into the intellectual scientific community as I would be during a normal year, but Baylor has been one of the best [universities] in providing the maximum number of in-person activities they can have while staying safe,” Kemp said. “Even when one of the first football games was canceled, we were still able to walk through the stadium and feel the atmosphere.”

Both Nussbaum and Kemp said they are happy with Baylor’s efforts to ensure freshman have the best first year experience possible.

“I am still able to go to dining halls with friends, grow in my faith and meet people on and off campus,” Kemp said. “Baylor has still tried to provide a sense of normalcy which is something I do appreciate.”

While Kemp said she does appreciate Baylor’s efforts during the fall semester, she feels as though she has had to search for ways to stay involved on and off campus on her own.

“I feel like I have really experienced community at Baylor and met a lot of people despite COVID, but I feel like I had to seek out my faith more and find opportunities to serve outside of the resources they offer,” Kemp said.

With Baylor’s new weekly testing underway, students like Nussbaum said they are hoping to see more in-person events this semester.

“Whenever I was first looking at Baylor, I was really drawn to their volunteering efforts across the Waco community, so hopefully they’ll provide safe alternatives as weekly testing will help the school better gauge active cases,” Nussbaum said.