A Freshman’s Perspective

Finn McDonough shares his experiences as a freshman on the Biddeford campus.


It’s never easy to be an incoming freshman in college. Leaving home, living in a new place, and for many of us living with another person in the room for the first time. COVID took that initial difficulty and extended it through all aspects of college life. It feels as though we as freshmen are receiving a neutered college experience.

 Still, life goes on. On my first day, I met people in my dorm, made new friends, and had a great time during orientation getting to know the basics of college life and getting to know everyone. Starting classes wasn’t the most difficult thing in the world; remembering the days where I was supposed to go in person was probably the biggest challenge I faced with adjusting to college classes.

However, there is this sense of diminishment that pervades throughout the college experience. It feels as though we are getting the off-brand, Walmart version of a college experience at times. Yes, there are still activities and intramurals, but they operate in a diminished capacity or not at all. Yes, we have in-person classes, but half the time the expectation is for you to be able to learn in a self-managed, self-driven capacity. This works for some people, including myself, but often it seems others have issues. It also encourages sitting in the dorms all day, working, maybe hanging out with friends, and then sleeping, as there isn’t much else to do on campus the majority of the time. 

Campus life can often feel very studious and draining, as in reality there isn’t much going on outside of class; for a good reason, of course. At the same time, I can kind of appreciate the sort of ease that has been allowed for us. The expectations are somewhat lowered, and there’s a lot more time to focus on academically succeeding. I don’t know how I would have adjusted to a normal college experience, but I do appreciate the kind of lull this pandemic has brought upon us. 

I feel more confident about my academic ability now more than ever because I’ve been afforded the time to truly focus on the school side of things. At times it feels like I have a clearer grasp of what I need to do, but at others, I feel almost lost in the number of things I need to do; the grasp of my academics comes in and out.

Adjusting to college classes was a bit of a leap from what I was doing in high school. I went to a definitely less vigorous school; a lot less what expected from you and performance was less about ability and more about the personal drive. Here, the academics are a lot more intensive; I feel like I always have an assignment or project to be working on, and crunch is a more pervasive feeling. It can also feel a lot more confusing; instead of having class time specifically to be working on certain assignments, it ends up being me trying to organize my time more efficiently as opposed to having it basically structured for me by the school. I also spend a lot of time having to study, which is something I never did in high school. 

University life under the blanket of Covid is characterized by paranoia and isolation. While you are surrounded by your peers, it feels almost as if you are isolated, because of the restrictions we have to have to prevent Covid. Everyone is sort of in their own world, with classes often passing without the majority of people in class answering or even seeming to engage with their teachers. People don’t make eye contact, and often don’t even smile at each other.