George W. Miller III talks to students about their experiences on campus and online over the past two years.
Haile Howard began her collegiate career at Temple fall 2020, at the height of the pandemic uncertainty. The history and journalism double-major had all of her classes online that first year.
For the start of her sophomore year, she was excited to be on campus. That lasted three weeks.
“College is supposed to be a plethora of experiences and I was doing classes in my bedroom,” said the rising junior from King of Prussia.
She couldn’t visit the historic sites that would have enhanced her history classes and she couldn’t perform interviews on the street for her journalism classes. She interviewed staff from the Mütter Museum by Zoom, meaning she lost out on the experience of seeing that amazing and bizarre collection.
And this came after not having a high school graduation ceremony or prom due to the pandemic.
“I originally wanted to go farther away for college,” she said, “but because of all the uncertainty, I decided to stay near home.”
While classes and campus life eased back to a more normal state during the spring 2022 semester, the impact of the pandemic continues to looms large. Many current students missed out on rites of passage, from high school traditions to the peer group development that happens when students begin college. The social, cultural, political, financial and public health issues have built up, leaving many students in a delicate state.
“There is a lot of anxiety in students,” said Chris Wolfgang, the Assistant Dean for Student Services in the College of Liberal Arts. “We had been seeing an uptick in mental health issues in students for years. The pandemic really accelerated that.”
Emma Klein, a rising sophomore from Williamstown, NJ, spent her first year at Temple with half her classes online and half in-person.
“It was nice because I had zero in-person my senior year of high school,” said the political science and economics double-major. “Everyone was so much more friendly once everyone was on campus.”
Micah Jordan said that she was really shy when she began her freshman year at Temple in 2019. The pandemic presented her with time to reflect on her choices.
“I realized that this is it,” said the rising senior who is majoring in psychology. “If I squander this moment, my college years, I’m not going to get it back. I want to be able to be able to say I made the best of my college years.”
She joined student organizations, which she was previously scared to do. She got a retail job during the pandemic and became more outgoing.
“I realized a lot of my fears were all in my head,” she said.
Phiona Tran, who just completed her first year as a psychology graduate student, has been a peer advisor in the College of Liberal Arts’ Center for Academic Advising since her sophomore year as an undergraduate student. She said that during the depths of the pandemic, she experienced a lot of students dealing with mental health issues.
“They wanted to withdrawal or do a leave of absence,” she recalled. “Everyone was stuck at home and they were suffering.”
Victoria Scott grew up in Delaware County but she had never done a tour of campus before arriving last fall for her freshman year. She was excited to be on campus after her high school senior year was all online. But there was a lot of confusion – about where to go, what were the protocols, and whether classes were in-person or online.
“Am I going to campus today? Am I staying home?” she routinely asked herself. “The pandemic won’t end by the time I graduate from Temple. We just have to get used to it.”
This story is from the June 2022 edition of the Faculty Herald.