COVID-19 Pandemic Alters the Freshman Experience

Freedom class of 2024 class officers created a class shirt that accurately encapsulated their unconventional freshman year.

Freedom class of 2024 class officers created a class shirt that accurately encapsulated their unconventional freshman year.


The pandemic has altered school life for students all over the country. Things such as virtual learning, mask wearing in classrooms and even missing out on events such as Homecoming, football games and pep rallies have limited students socially as well as academically.

Many have written or talked about losing the senior experience, as that is one of the fondest memories for former high school students, but these people fail to remember how crucial the freshman experience is to many.

Coming from middle to high school, freshman year is a transitional period. Freedom High School is larger than most middle schools, the classes may be more rigorous, and high school is full of large opportunities like sports, clubs, or leadership activities. This year students are having to deal with all of the new high school pressures without having the comfort of being in school and going through regular activities.

Not only are the freshmen missing out on being in the school for their classes, they are also missing out on many of their firsts, a big part of the freshmen experience. For many, a first high school dance is memorable, and the first time getting ready for a school event with new friends is a rite of passage. The large change from middle to high school could be overwhelming for any new freshman, let alone experiencing these changes while socially isolated. Some freshmen feel that having this huge transition from a remote setting has had a negative impact on the class as a whole. Freshman Munise Yilmaz feels that other freshmen may be struggling with the many adjustments they have had to face this past year.

“Speaking generally, mostly quarantining and starting a high school chapter online made many students shy, scared to open up and antisocial,” Yilmaz said.

Along with social struggles, freshman year can be drastically different in terms of the academic expectations, and this is for many the first year where classes count towards GPA. Trying to navigate difficult classes could overwhelm freshmen any other year, so trying to do these classes from home would likely put freshmen behind and cause them to struggle with material. With online classes making it easier to fall behind on work, students like Yilmaz have found it difficult to learn.

“I enjoyed not having too much pressure on myself, but speaking the truth, I feel the huge gap of learning compared to what I could have learned,” Yilmaz said.

Though this year has been very different from the traditional school year for these freshmen, it is fortunate that the years ahead are likely to be better. As a teacher who works with many freshmen, Grace Bluefeld advises other freshmen teachers to have patience with their students as they navigate a difficult time.

“Meet the students where they are and be thoughtful in how you engage with them,” Bluefeld said. “This has been hard on everyone, and for the freshmen they had the added layer of coming into a brand new environment”