For people making a major life transition in the middle of a pandemic, some incoming college freshmen have come to terms with the weirdness of their circumstances.
This is a snapshot of what it’s like for students at five Maryland schools who are logging on to “Zoom University” for the first time, on campus or from their childhood bedrooms.
Morgan State University
Iyana Gross made an unusual decision this spring — she chose an out-of-state university.
When the pandemic hit and students were left to make decisions about which university to attend without having visited many of them, they often flocked to schools closer to home or universities that were less expensive.
But Gross, who is from Chicago, decided on Morgan State University, which she described as being the perfect mix of everything she was looking for.
“I’m from Chicago, and so I enjoy being in a big city,” she said. “But I also wanted to be at a school that had a gender studies program, and they have a gender studies program.”
“In the future, I’d like to go to medical school, or at least be in the medical field,” Gross added. “I chose Morgan because the program I’m in, medical technology, all of their graduates, within six months of graduating, have a job in their field. And for me, that is great.”
Even though she’s attending virtual classes from several hundred miles away, Gross said she feels like the university has made a good effort to reach out and organize virtual events for students.
Morgan State University also has a peer mentorship program, where older STEM students are partnered with incoming freshmen for their first two semesters.
“I love talking to my mentor. She checks in on me every week and she always sends me a ‘Happy Monday, hope things are going well,” Gross said. “She’s just been very supportive.”
While Morgan State allowed a limited number of students to return to campus, Gross, who’s immunocompromised, felt it was safer for her to stay at home this semester.
“I wasn’t necessarily willing to risk it,” Gross said, noting that while she might be doing everything she can to keep herself safe, she can’t control who she might be exposed to.
She’s also not sure if she’ll come to campus in the spring, even if it does reopen.
“It’s just not something I’m willing to take a chance on,” Gross said. “But catch me there in August 2021.”
University of Maryland, Baltimore County:
When the pandemic hit in March, Chinenye Armstrong Christopher had to make difficult decisions about what college he wanted to attend.
“’Cause of COVID 1/8 19 3/8, I didn’t want to leave the state,” he said.
Christopher, who’s from Pikesville, had been accepted by University of Maryland, Baltimore County, University of Maryland, College Park, Towson University, Penn State University and Howard University, but ruled out the last two for their distance.
But Christopher is more than happy with his decision to attend UMBC.