Do you want to know what college is like during a global pandemic? Maria Perez, a first-generation college student who graduated from Oakland Mills High School in 2020, has first-hand experience dealing with the challenges of online college. Perez is enrolled at Howard Community College this year, and she is majoring in nursing. In her free time, she likes to listen to music, watch Netflix, help her mom cook, and she has recently started baking.
College has been tough for Perez during this pandemic because she had to often teach herself what she was learning in class, which is not easy for a first-year college student. But when the second semester came along, she got the hang of it. College students are dealing with stress differently compared to in-person learning. When this pandemic wasn’t a major problem, they were able to go out and destress themselves in a variety of ways, but most of those options are not available currently. People stay home all day long and people who are extroverts, like Perez, need to meet people to maintain their energy. So, in the meantime, she has to find creative ways to destress and stay mentally healthy. To destress, Perez has been coloring and doing puzzles, which she finds relaxing.
Students also don’t have the ability to talk to their teachers in person when they need help or if they didn’t understand, which is different during this pandemic than before. Students have to rely on technology constantly, and if that technology fails, it affects their grades. For the incoming freshmen, she said “Never be scared to email your professor about ANYTHING!! It is okay to feel shy to email them.”
While many things have changed for better and worse, some things remain the same. Perez is still trying to achieve her goals and live her best life to make the most of the situation. To her, this is her new normal. We wish Perez and all of the other students the best of luck in their first year of college!