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Education

College Students Reflect On Another Semester During The Pandemic

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

Colleges and universities are wrapping up a fall semester unlike any other. The pandemic left campuses around the country scrambling to figure out how to effectively teach while keeping everyone safe. So we asked five students how it went.

TRACE WILLIAMS: Hi, my name is Trace Williams. I'm a senior at the University of Kentucky. Before COVID-19 was ever a thing, I told myself, like, I would never take an online class because I feel like I can lose, like, focus easily. But I've actually kind of enjoyed online classes. But I know some students don't. You know, some students don't have the best Wi-Fi connection. Some students really can't focus. Other students are very depressed or have a lot of anxiety 'cause they're in isolation, and they just miss seeing people. And they just - like, they need that kind of connection that they're not getting online.

QUINN EAHEART: My name's Quinn Eaheart. I'm a sophomore at Colorado College. As an RA, it has been a little challenging. Something I tell my residents one day could be different the next. They started this semester with bringing all freshmen on to campus, so I had about 14 people in my hall. And now I'm down to three. More than half left after we had a couple quarantines of, like, our bigger halls. I'm telling my residents to keep their contacts, like, small. Like, try and hang out with the same people. You don't want to be the kid that starts the next dorm-wide quarantine.

EVA SILEO: My name is Eva Sileo. I am a senior at the University of Iowa. I was actually, like, a teaching intern, so I wasn't in the class. I was teaching a class. So each little section would have, like, six people, so they could sit far apart. We would have them clean everything with ethanol before they sat down and before they left. We'd have them wear lab coats, gloves, face shields and masks. It wasn't pleasant. You know, the room's, like, 85 degrees. The students were not engaged at all. It felt like a farce (laughter). Like, obviously, like, as a person who's going into education, that's, like, not, like, a great feeling when you're the one teaching that class.

THOMAS ASSAD: My name is Thomas Assad. I'm at the University of Notre Dame. It seemed like we were able to have a semester that was as normal as it could be during the age of COVID. We ended up beating Clemson in overtime, and adrenaline kind of carried people onto the field. And I think after the fact, people realized that that may not have been the greatest idea. And I myself sort of regret jumping.

The Friday that finals week ended, my roommate tested positive for the virus. He could have gotten it from one of our friends or interacted with a professor or even at the grocery store. He has no idea how he got it.

JOSTIN TRINIDAD: My name is Jostin Trinidad. I go to Loyola University Chicago. I am a sophomore. While I did kind of, like, maybe lose a semester or maybe even two with spring semester coming up soon, I feel like it was better for our community in Chicago that we weren't just, like, all there all together because I feel like there is definitely a college, like, mentality when it comes to, like, oh, it won't affect me. I'm - what? - I'm barely reaching 20. The coronavirus isn't going to, like, hit me hard. And I feel like, knowing myself, I probably would be there one or more times. But I think it was, like, a socially responsible decision by Loyola to be like, we're canceling on-campus housing 'cause, like, it's not like they can watch us 24/7.

ELLIOTT: The voices there of college students halfway through this unique and challenging school year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.