The Gettysburg College students who had remained on campus during the fall semester returned home over the Thanksgiving weekend to take their final exams online.
In the days before they left the college administration announced that sophomores, juniors, and seniors would be allowed to return to campus in the spring semester, which will begin on February 1.
College freshmen, who spent their fall semester on campus, will be spending the spring term at home.
As the semester wound down students at home and on campus were already anxious, and the announcement left them uncertain about the future.
“Overall I’m pretty stressed because there’s a lot to do, I’m feeling worse than I have in quite a few years. I feel really overwhelmed,” said a sophomore who had been at home during the fall. “Being stuck in my room (at home) is mentally taxing. It doesn’t feel like we’re doing things for school. When you go to school your goal is to make new connections with people and get your name out there. With everything online you don’t have the opportunity because you don’t see your classmates. I want to have a good experience. I’m taking more time to go and get help in classes. I’m meeting with my professor. It’s a lot harder because you have to work around schedules. You don’t see them before class or right after. There’s not always time to ask questions.”
“It’s been harder than usual,” said a senior who spent the fall semester on campus living in the Gettysburg Hotel which has been repurposed as a dormitory. “It’s been more difficult, but that’s how the past eight months have been. It’s still tough. There’s no common space in the hotel. They’re trying the best they can. I don’t think they handled it the best but it is what it is.”
“I didn’t think things would be getting to me as much as they are but I’m really having a pretty hard time dealing with the limbo,” said another sophomore. It’s taking a toll and it’s been more difficult than I expected. I think because I am really stressed and confused it’s definitely affected my whole mental state. I’m a pretty diligent student but it might have influenced my schoolwork. I’m very fortunate because I have two campus jobs and an internship. For people who don’t have the same connection to campus it’s probably even harder.”
Looking forward, students expressed both relief and concern:
“I’m happy to be on campus for spring, since the sophomore class really had only one semester on campus so far,” said a sophomore.
“My initial reaction to the news that Gettysburg College would be bringing back three class years instead of the entire student body was disappointment,” said another student. “The email left a lot of questions unanswered as to what students should expect campus life to be like in the spring. This makes the decision to return much more difficult as there is no certainty that the campus experience will be remotely similar to that of a normal semester.”
“I am a mixture of excited and worried about returning in the spring because I was sure that we wouldn’t be sent back the first time and here we are,” said another sophomore.
Another sophomore said “I am super excited to be back on campus and also a little curious as to how in person classes are going to feel after such a long time of being online.”