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Check out how UTC adapted to providing the college experience in the midst of COVID-19

CHATTANOOGA, TENN ( –  2020 has been full of changes, due to the long lasting effects of COVID-19. There have been canceled plans, quarantines, shut downs, and all kinds of adjustments made this year. 

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has not been exempt from these changes. Classes are at half capacity or online, plans have been canceled, clubs are being hosted online, and masks have become a new trend for students.

The college experience is hard to achieve when there are so many regulations that have to be upheld. However, the University and students are trying to make the best out of this year. 

When you think of the college experience most people imagine different things. Things like tailgates at Finley Stadium, participating in Homecoming Week, watching plays on Chamberlain Field, or just hanging out with friends in the dorm. 

Every student has a different expectation of what their experience is supposed to look like. For Matrion Burgess, junior at UTC, she said that this year has been hard to adapt to. 

“I miss sitting in my English classes. I don’t feel like I’m absorbing my information I need in the classes that I was so excited for at the beginning of the semester. What were the most important parts of my major to me have become hurdles I need to get over just to pass. I still love what I’m doing, but I feel like the information I need in my career when I graduate is all just eluding me now,” said Marion.  

She said that all but one of her classes were online. While that was hard, the hardest part was not being able to interact with her friends. 

Marion said, “I used to meet up with my friends in the library and we would hang out and study,” but she added, “Now we have so many regulations it is hard to even see them on campus. It just makes it hard to form relationships that mean something in college.”

Another student, Caitlyn Hodge, a sophomore at UTC, said that a lot has changed for the Delta Zeta Sorority.

“The recruitment process was completely different this year,” Caitlyn said. 

“The process was done fully virtual this year over zoom, so there was no in-person interaction like before. This prevented freshmen from getting the opportunity to build new relationships with each other,” she added. 

She said that while they did not get to host events or meet in person, “Zeta still got to recruit the most amazing group of girls and form unique friendships, but we just had to try extra hard to get to know each other virtually.”

Kaylah Santos, senior at UTC, said that also really missed events and in-person interaction that she used to get at the university.

“My senior year has been the worst year I’ve had in college solely because of COVID. We can’t have anything fun or entertaining because everything is virtual. As a person who thrives on human interaction, COVID has changed everything,” she said.

One of the things Kaylah said she missed the most was the atmosphere at football games, “I miss the big crowds at the football games. I miss being able to go out with my friends. I miss it all.” 

While students are feeling discouraged this year due to the pandemic, there are still lots of options to gain the college experience at UTC. 

For more on the COVID college experience, see how students at NYU have responded.

About Emily Mitchell

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