The Class of 2020: How is college going two years into the pandemic?


Jack Weaver

A student wearing a mask exits Gatton Student Center on the first day of in-person classes on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Claire Osterfeld

Teens who graduated high school in 2020 are now halfway through their time in undergrad, but they have not had a “normal” college year yet.

The pandemic has not been easy for anyone, but it has affected some people more than others. After getting their senior year of high school cut short, 2020 grads are now nearly two years into college and have yet to experience it without COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID mandates have played a large role on UK’s campus. Until recently, masks have been required for students to wear in any indoor spaces on campus.

“I understand why we wear masks, and that’s fine,” sophomore Olivia Norton said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t wish things could be different, because I do.”

Even beyond masking, there have been plenty of other restrictions that students feel have hindered their ability to meet people on campus.

“Having classes fully online for my first semester of freshman year made things really hard. I felt very isolated,” Norton said.

Upon the start of the 2021-2022 school year, classes returned to almost entirely in-person.

“Getting to go to classes in person this year is definitely an improvement after being so alone for so much of last year. I just wish we could go back in time and change things,” sophomore Becca Miner said. “I feel like I’m really behind where I should be at this point in my sophomore year.”

While things on campus continue to return to normal, students are trying their hardest to integrate themselves into the UK community.

“After doing nothing for a whole year, it has been pretty hard to motivate myself. I am just not used to having somewhere to be every single day,” Miner said.

Now that classes are back in person, students need to readjust their schedules and time management skills in order to keep up.

Despite all these hardships, students are grateful that things are looking up for the 2022-2023 school year.

“Yes, things have been hard, but they get easier every day and I am really looking forward to a fresh start next semester,” Miner said.

Even before getting to college, these students had to experience a high school graduation tainted by COVID restrictions.

“My high school graduation consisted of a drive through line and a bunch of clapping teachers,” sophomore Isabela Jelenkovic said. “Not exactly the ideal situation to celebrate the end of four years of hard work.”

Drive-through graduations were one of many popular ways that students had to graduate in 2020. Most of them happened in May or June, when COVID guidelines were the most strict.

Jelenkovic said finishing high school like that did not feel right to her and other 2020 grads.

“I think a lot of 2020 grads never really got that closure and are still facing those effects to this day,” she said.

Even though college got off to a rough start for many 2020 grads, they are still hopeful that things will start to feel normal before graduating college.

“By the end of college I would like to have at least one class where I really feel like I had the opportunity to meet and talk to new people. Even now with in person classes, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect. Like none of us really know what to do,” Jelenkovic said.

As year two nears its close for 2020 grads, they remain hopeful about what the future holds.

“Anything could happen,” Miner said. “And I hope it does.”