Illustration by Connor Lawless
As a first-year student myself, I was skeptical about attending school virtually. I had to consider a lot of things such as would I still make friends? What if my grades are affected? How can I be involved while living remotely?
However, a lot of first-year students had the same concerns as me. A few commuters and remote students felt like they weren’t making any connections and building relationships among the Quinnipiac University community. Luckily, the Freshman Advisory Board, directed by Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett, came up with the Virtual Roommate Program. The board sent emails to all virtual students to help first-years socialize and get a chance to meet fresh faces from home. There was a link to a survey in the email that included questions about your major, hobbies and availability.
Ephemia Nicolakis, a graphic design major on the First-Year Advisory Board, led the Virtual Roommate Program.
“The goal of the program was to produce a pair or small group that could hopefully form a friendship and, as a result, be there as a resource,” Nicolakis said.
Many students shared positive feedback about the programs that the First-Year Advisory Board put on.
“Our in-person roommate events were just as successful, as students were grouped at tables and discussions and games were conducted.” Nicolakis said.
Ellett was also a commuter student during his first year of college. He recommended first-year students seek out opportunities, rise out of their comfort zones and become involved in their interests.
For example, Ellett mentioned he could make policies focusing only on organizational change and what can be better, but he said he went above and beyond through his role as Chief Experience Officer and met with Quinnipiac students in a fun way by playing socially distanced “Head’s Up.”
“Every Friday and Saturday night, I walked on campus… I would walk around with popsicles, fruit and candy all individually wrapped,” Ellett said. “With my gloves on, I would give a person a card, and they would hold it up to their friends, and if they guessed the word in ten seconds, I would give them a piece of candy or an apple.”
The Freshman Advisory Board meets every Tuesday night. Ellett said this week he would pitch the idea of making the program a recurring event to allow commuters and virtual students to meet more people and receive a fulfilling college experience.
Accommodations to virtual students
At the beginning of the semester, an email was sent out to all virtual students telling them to email all of their professors outside of their major to let them know they live remotely. This year professors are holding office hours virtually to accommodate for social distancing and the online-only students.
Outside of office hours, virtual students who need extra help can contact the learning commons or go to MyQ and request a tutor. They will schedule a time to meet on Zoom and help students with any homework that may be troubling for them. If a student needs access to the library from home, they can log into the Arnold Bernhard Library database, which includes scholarly sources on a wide variety of disciplines.
Life on campus
Many students living on campus have had a positive experience so far. According to Olivia Zevzavadjian, a first-year physical therapy major, she has been making friends safely on campus.
“I followed people on social media,” Zevzavadjian said. “I am usually an outgoing individual, so I always introduced myself if I saw a group of people outside on the quad or in the Student Center.”
Lots of students on campus have been going out of their way to meet new people, whether it be on their way to class, through social media, school clubs and more.
However, there are some students who miss the taste of freedom they had at home.
“I’m excited to do the spring semester at home and get back to my job, make money again and do classes on Zoom at home,” said Amy Loberger, a first-year business management major.
Home can be seen as a safe place where everything is known. As it is, venturing out and trying to discover one’s self as an individual through a pandemic can be challenging. It is understandable why first-years may consider staying home for the spring semester.
There are a lot of factors to consider when returning to Quinnipiac in the spring: How many COVID-19 cases will there be? Is there a difference in academic performance virtually versus in-person?
As a first-year student, it is OK to feel homesick or isolated during these odd times, but it is important to remember there are resources out there to help.