College and Covid-19: Hills alumni report

“My class has six people in it and we are distanced the entire time,” said Hills alum Aly Cohen. “There are definitely people on campus who aren’t following the safety precautions, and there have been strict consequences for them.”


Hills alum Aly Cohen

The University of Delaware empty of students due to Covid-19 limitations.

Attending college this year has been full of confusion, inconveniences, and losses of opportunities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands have had to say goodbye to their packed bags and stay home, while others are on campus, following safety precautions. 


As the new school year has begun, multiple schools have decided to reopen their campuses. Many of the universities that first allowed students to be physically present have had to switch to remote learning due to students testing positive for the virus, but there are quite a few schools that remain open.

What it’s like to be fully remote during college

Many colleges have decided to transfer to online learning in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Danielle Joukhadarian, a Hills alum and freshman at The College of New Jersey, explained that the most drastic changes of her learning experiences when going fully remote is that “having online classes has forced me to adjust to the fast-paced, academic environment. My school requires students to have work to complete outside of class, such as essays, research projects, or collaborative assignments. It’s been a difficult adjustment to not be able to be present in the classroom with my professors and classmates.” 

Professors at colleges have had to come up with new requirements and methods of teaching, like assigning extra assignments that must be done outside of class. While frustrating for the students, this can create a larger chance for learners to grasp a better understanding of topics while remote learning has created obstacles for teachers to efficiently teach.

“Starting college is already a difficult process, but having to do it online with virtual guidance is even more of a struggle. It’s not the same trying to know teachers and make new friends. It’s much more difficult to navigate classes and understand what the teachers want from their students with the online environment,” said Rutgers freshman Mireille Joukhadarian. 

The beginning of college and adjusting to the new lifestyle are already unfamiliar as is, so everyone having to do this in a new way is challenging and oftentimes frustrating. When entering college, many people look forward to making new friends and living in a new environment, so having those experiences taken away is not easy to deal with. 

Thousands of students have made their own decision to go fully remote in education while thousands of others have no choice but to stay home due to the closings of their schools. Having no interactions with peers and teachers is something that many of these young adults are struggling with; it makes their overall college experience lack the excitement that they were looking forward to for quite a while.

What it’s like to be on campus during the pandemic

While many colleges are fully remote, there are colleges that have offered students the chance to physically attend school. But, there are still many differences in going to school this year compared to previous years.

“It’s kind of hard to make friends, especially since most classes and events are online and it limits how often you really get to meet people. Also, learning through Zoom presents a lot of challenges, like not having the interaction with other students and the professor and TAs, so you sort of just feel like you’re all by yourself,” said Miranda Luo, a freshman at Cornell University and the salutatorian of the Hills class of 2020.

Though there are colleges giving their students the option to live on campus, this does not always mean that their actual classes are in person. Scholars on campus are likely to see themselves learning through video calls, just as they would at home, and many have noticed that interactions among students are highly limited. 

In her first year at the University of Delaware, Hills alum Aly Cohen has been attending one in-person class while living on campus. “I have an in-person sewing class which takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have to fill out a [Covid-19 symptom check] before entering class and the dining hall. My class has six people in it and we are distanced the entire time. There are definitely people on campus who aren’t following the safety precautions, and there have been strict consequences for them, such as fines and suspended housing.” 

Like at Hills, in college classrooms, social distancing rules are mandated and a form on possible coronavirus symptoms must be filled out to ensure that everyone can be as safe as possible in class. The number of students is limited in the classroom, but that does not stop people from having safe gatherings outside of class.

“When I’m not in class, I spend time with my friends in the lounge on my floor or we go to the turf field outside our building,” Cohen added.

Interacting with a certain number of peers is allowed at multiple schools. Indoor and outdoor sociability is strictly monitored, but there are colleges more lenient than others when it comes to what students can and cannot do on campus; there are students who must stay in their dorm rooms to study, while students at other colleges are allowed to study in different parts of buildings. 

“I really don’t mind learning online, but it’s definitely been a change from the face-to-face interactions that I’ve been used to over the years,” Joukhadarian mentioned.  

The differences in this school year to any other year are unmissable in everyone’s experiences –– positively and negatively. Though many students have not completely adjusted to the new year, they are finding the upsides to such circumstances, whether they are learning from home, staying in dorms, or physically attending class on campus.