Starting College During a Pandemic

By Maryam Masood July 7, 2020

Two months into quarantine, I spoke with rising first-year Amber to get a glimpse into how incoming students are feeling as they wrap up their final year of high school, attend online orientation, and try to find a roommate without knowing exactly what housing or classes will look like in the fall. (For current information and updates about the fall semester at U-M, see here.) Amber shares why she decided to #GoBlue and how she feels about transitioning to college.

Maryam: What was your first impression of U-M?

Amber: The first time I saw U-M’s campus, I was dropping my sister off for her first year at college. My impression of the campus was that there was a lot of school spirit. Everywhere I looked, there was maize and blue. Some people’s houses were even “maize and blue” themed.

Maryam: What made you choose U-M?

Amber: I was deciding between two schools before I decided on Michigan. The other school was much smaller, and initially this was a huge draw for me. However, I felt like there were more opportunities for me at Michigan, and I was excited by all of U-M’s top programs (like public health, psychology, etc). While I was a little nervous to come to a big school like Michigan, I was told that you can always make a big school smaller, but you can’t make a small school bigger.

Maryam: How do you feel about starting college in the fall?

Amber: Excited. Also nervous. I think because of the quarantine situation, it’s been a weird transition because we didn’t really get to celebrate college decisions with our friends at school – we haven’t really closed off the year to start somewhere else and move from one chapter of our lives into the next. It doesn’t feel real.

But I’m also excited to meet new people and explore the school. And I like the idea of being exposed to different communities that we might not have much exposure to prior to college.

Maryam: What are your biggest worries?

Amber: Adjusting to a bigger school environment. And the academics. I’m not sure how different they will be.

Maryam: How are your friends feeling about going to college given the current circumstances?

Amber: The thing with this year is that a lot of people have had last minute changes to their college decision because a lot of people are getting off the waitlist. We have this Instagram for seniors to share where they are going and there have been so many posts they’ve had to take down and change them because [the student] is going to another school.

It’s also been weird because we haven’t been able to see each other as much. People are excited for their new environment, but I think a lot of people are questioning their decisions a little bit because they can’t visit the school and they don’t know what they’re signing up for completely.

Maryam: Have you been able to connect with other incoming students? If so, how?

Amber: Yes, but I feel like I want to probably reach out to more people too. But basically through the Facebook page (this is not an official U-M Facebook page; however, this is) and mostly Instagram people drop their snaps. There is this one [U-M student] that found something on TikTok – it’s this Google form where you answer these questions and she matches you to a group based on similar interests. I joined a lot later than a lot of people at Michigan because of the whole changing schools thing. I did the survey so we have an Instagram groupchat and I’ve added people on Instagram.

Maryam: What resources would you like to see from U-M / be connected to?

Amber: Maybe just because everything’s online right now, I think the communication aspect is a little bit harder because there is no in-person orientation. Maybe just more communication from the school in a little bit – especially about different organizations you can get involved with. Even from the organizations themselves, maybe more outreach to incoming students. I know a lot from [my sister] but if I didn’t have her tell me about organizations, I wouldn’t have known they existed.

Maryam: Any last thoughts?

Amber: I’m really excited to join the community. I think it’s a really unique school. Everyone who has gone to Michigan seems to love it and there’s such a vibrancy to the community. I’m excited. It’s definitely different coming into the school this year because of some of the limitations, but there’s nothing you can really do about that – it'll be fun!

Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood is a junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies with a minor in Spanish. During the year, she keeps busy as a student employee for CommonGround and Treasurer for the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program. Outside of class and work, she enjoys to travel, procrastinating at the CCRB, and is most likely watching Kim's Convenience or Criminal Minds on Netflix.