Adjusting back to in-person has been challenging as a college student

Leslie Mendez, Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic installed fear and uncertainty in many, and we are still living through its lasting effects. As a student, I’ve experienced these challenges firsthand in my education and daily life.

Adjusting back to normality has been extremely stressful. I became accustomed to the idea of not having a solid routine.

Habits are usually established through routine. However, the return to normalcy seemed to happen from one day to another, hindering me from organically forming a post-quarantine routine. I was quickly thrown into a full schedule of in-person classes, work, and social activities. 

According to a survey about the impact of COVID-19 on college students published by Active Minds, 76% of 2,806 students said that they were having trouble maintaining a routine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I enjoyed virtual learning because of its many benefits. It made life easier. School over Zoom allowed for a more lenient schedule and cutting out the commute to campus, allowing me to snooze my alarm for a few extra minutes. 

I remember receiving the email from California Lutheran University in regards to in-person classes beginning in the fall, I was so excited to start my first semester at Cal Lutheran as a transfer student and surround myself with people on the same journey as me, but I completely neglected the thought of how little free time I would have.

As the first day of class approached, I began to feel anxious about being in-person. I wondered if people would be distant and unsociable due to the lockdown. I feared that many people wouldn’t feel as excited as I was to be around others.

Cal Lutheran Student Success Counselor Janna Lafferty expressed the positivity surrounding the return of students being back on campus in a Zoom interview. 

“I’ve just had students say that it’s nice to be back, it’s nice to be on campus,” Lafferty said. “I think just my sense was that people were struggling when it was just Zoom and not having that connection with other students or with their faculty.”

It was comforting to know that other students were glad to be back in-person and were adjusting without a problem. However, I quickly began to feel the anxiety of the immense workload that was yet to come.

The return to in-person schooling has made it stressful in creating balance. I am extremely content to be on campus and to have the ability to interact with my peers, but it has been overwhelming. 

This drastic change in life has had a toll on my mental health. I had become so accustomed to being distanced from others that I got comfortable with being on my own. Now, I feel engulfed in the stress of increasing assignments and the thought of securing a job.

“I think there’s the worry about jobs, I’ve heard some people say ‘well maybe now I am considering graduate school because I want to wait for the job market to be a little better,” said Lafferty in regards to students being concerned about their future endeavors after college.   

But stress isn’t the only challenge; difficulty concentrating in long classes, an inconsistent sleep schedule, and the anxiety of forming friendships at a new school are all factors. I fear that these obstacles will overwhelm me enough to affect my education.

According to a statistic on the Best Colleges website, 48% of college students believe that their negative mental health symptoms are a result of the pandemic and have directly affected their education.

Returning to in-person learning has made me re-learn how to socialize and understand body language. I had to learn how to read the room in order to remain respectful of social distancing and mask regulations.

Although there are many difficulties returning to campus this semester, there is a positive side to returning to in-person instruction. I’m extremely grateful to know that I am not alone, there are other students who are still trying to adjust to this new normal.