April 15, 2020
By Kara Murgittroyd
As a result of the coronavirus, colleges and universities across the state have closed their campuses and transferred their classes online for the remainder of the spring semester, in many cases giving students just days to move out and adapt to a new way of learning.
While this shift can be difficult for all students, it can be especially hard for college freshmen, who have experienced a year filled with change.
LHS Class of 2019 graduate Alyssa Engels, who is studying psychology and education at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Madison, N.J. campus, said she is sad to be missing out on the extracurricular activities commonly associated with college.
“The virus did take away from my college experience because I just got into a sorority, and because you can’t have big groups, I don’t get to do all the fun new member things and get initiated until next semester,” Engels said.
While Engels was able to return home to Lyndhurst, she said not all college students were lucky enough to have a home to which they could return.
“The biggest issue of closing the schools is that some kids have nowhere to go and also dorming and meal plan refunds,” Engels said.
She said the biggest challenge she has encountered since returning to Lyndhurst is adjusting to online learning.
“It is so much different than going to class,” Engels said. “I paid to go to college, not sit in my room and do online courses.”
“Focusing on schoolwork, in general, is also difficult because I think being at home can be more distracting.”
LHS Class of 2019 graduate Sebastian Cabrera attends Rutgers University-New Brunswick and is working towards a double major in criminal justice and psychology.
He said since he returned to Lyndhurst, it has been hard to stay motivated.
“While I was on campus, I felt really focused and on top of things, while now I feel like I’m losing focus and lazy,” Cabrera said.
He said he also misses his social life.
“I will miss being with my friends at Rutgers, and now I have my friends in Lyndhurst, but I can’t go out,” Cabrera said.
Class of 2019 graduate Sean Leonard, who attends The College of New Jersey in Ewing, lived on campus and is working towards a degree in biology. He said he has been surprised that COVID-19 grew to become a global public health crisis.
“I wrote a paper for an assignment in the fall about SARS. When I heard that SARS-CoV-2 was a similar virus, I assumed the outbreak would be similar to the one in 2003 and wouldn’t really impact people living in the U.S.,” Leonard said.
He said COVID-19 has led to challenges that reach beyond illness and healthcare, explaining that access to food and groceries are among his main concerns.
“I hope to see fewer people hoard [at] the grocery stores in the next few weeks,” Leonard said. “I think this pandemic will be fairly long-term, so I don’t think it’s necessary to hoard everything and panic.”
Leonard said he is also finding online education to be harder than learning in a traditional classroom on campus.
“Focusing on schoolwork, in general, is also difficult because I think being at home can be more distracting,” Leonard said.
He said even though this is a difficult time, it is leading to important lessons.
“I think it’s going to be something to always look back on and talk about,” Leonard said. “It is a learning moment to not take anything for granted and take the necessary precautions as a community.”