A day in the life of a freshman during COVID-19

Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Georgia State welcomed its largest freshman class this year, amidst a global pandemic, with about 54,000 first-year students enrolled and 5,200 of them attending the Atlanta campus. 

Freshman year of college comes with so many firsts, like the first college party, football games and, for most, the first time living away from home. For the freshman class of 2024, the first-year experience is vastly different from previous years.

However, freshmen must adhere to the university’s COVID-19 guidelines, even if they are eager to attend social gatherings.

Instead of going out to explore campus and city life, freshmen are logging into classes from their dorm rooms and finding new ways to entertain themselves while staying at home. 

Freshman Amber Burnette lives at University Commons and attends most of her classes virtually, except for two blended courses that meet in-person every two weeks. Freshmen like Burnette won’t know the trials of long nights out with friends or waking up for an 8 a.m. class.

“I … don’t have a strict morning routine to get ready for classes,” Burnette said. “I just set an alarm, take a shower and sign onto iCollege to do work.”

Freshman year usually brings new friends, as everyone mingles with other first-year students at residence hall-sponsored events and big lecture halls. This semester, Burnette’s roommate is the only person with whom she regularly interacts.

“I do hang out with friends, but we don’t do anything to put us at risk,” she said. “I have been hanging out with my roommate and one other friend, and we mostly just hang out in our living room and watch TV or study.”

Freshman Bill Burge also stays at University Commons. Like Burnette, Burge has a few in-person classes and has a pretty laid-back routine for getting ready in the mornings.

“[On] days without in-person classes, my routine is just getting up, eating breakfast and starting on the day’s work,” he said.

In a typical semester, Georgia State would hold an annual student organization fair around the second week of September to showcase all of the organizations on campus. Students would learn information about the organization, how to join and meet current members. 

The absence of this event due to COVID-19 has made it difficult for first-year students to get involved around campus.

“I do not participate in any extracurriculars because I couldn’t really find [any] or what they’re even about,” Burge said.

Though this year may look different from what freshmen envisioned for their first year, students are still trying to enjoy themselves.

“I thought I’d be joining lots of clubs, going out and exploring Atlanta,” Burnette said. “But my roommate and I have been having fun while taking the proper precautions, so I’ve had lots of fun since I moved in.”

Both students had an idea of what their first year would look like, but unfortunately, a pandemic drastically skewed the reality of their first year. Luckily, Burge and Burnette had months of adjusting to the “new normal” called life and were prepared for their first year of college to be what they made of it.