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Fresh beginnings: OSU freshmen react to first semester during COVID-19

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Temperature Checker in the Classroom Building at Oklahoma State University on September 23rd, 2020

Every year, many high school seniors spend days planning for their first college semester. Unfortunately, plans have been ever-changing in 2020, especially for Oklahoma State University freshmen. 

Looking back at her first semester, freshman Jaqlyn Evans thought her first few months on campus were what she expected. 

“Aside from social activities like tailgating, the school did a great job allowing students to do most activities that were normal a year ago,” Evans said.

Avery Luetkemeyer, a Stillwater native and freshman echoed Evans’ statement. 

“Obviously, we're students and we’re going to go out and be social but the university itself has done a pretty good job of keeping everything COVID friendly,” Luetkemeyer said.

Because of the challenges they had to overcome this  semester, OSU President Burns Hargis has been complementary to  his students for persevering. 

“This has been a most unusual experience for all of us,” Hargis told The O’Colly.. “The students are a resilient bunch, that’s all a part of the maturation process. You probably don’t mature a lot doing things you like. It’s working through struggles that is maturing.” 

Academically, Luetkemeyer had different expectations in college.

“This semester was a big change from high school,” Luetkemeyer said. “Growing up in Stillwater, I was expecting OSU to be like high school, but the classes are a lot harder than I expected.”

After all, despite limitations, OSU students are still able to attend class and live on campus— a situation that is not fully available throughout the country. 

“It was great still being able to go to the Colvin Center,” Evans said.  It was nice to attend on campus rather than remotely. I made new lifelong friends and I have loved the whole experience so far.”

Throughout the semester, Evans had to adapt to another change— quarantining in the Stillwater Hampton Inn after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“The quarantine wasn’t bad at all,” Evans said. “The hotel room was super nice, and it was a suite. It was much nicer than my dorm room to be honest.”

At the midway point of the school year, OSU announced the decision to move fully to in-person classes in the spring, a decision that has some freshmen excited about a step towards normalcy. 

“I’m excited for in-person classes,” Luetkemeyer said. “I did concurrent enrollment in high school, so I kind of know what it’s like. That was the benefit of growing up in Stillwater, I can take classes at OSU and not even be a full-time student.”