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College Freshmen Resilient In Face Of Pandemic

LOGAN, Utah – One group that’s especially felt the impact of the pandemic is freshmen in college.

Over the last year, the group of students have missed out on their final days of high school, a normal graduation and proms. And their college experience hasn’t been what they imagined it would, either.

If you take two steps onto the Utah State University campus, it’s easy to see there’s something missing.

“Being able just to see a packed campus just would be amazing!” said Kylee Tidwell, who’s currently in her first year at USU.

She said she believes that without her six roommates in her dorm, she wouldn’t have made it to her freshman year.

“It did feel pretty lonely at first, and it felt overwhelming,” Tidwell said. “And I didn’t know what the next step was going to look like.”

She’s one of the many students who struggled with mental health as the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to so many of the activities that define high school and college years.

“Like my family, they supported me, but they weren’t going through high school and graduating at the same time,” she said. “The people I live with right now, were.”

Eri Bentley is a psychologist and works in the counseling department at USU.

“The challenge with the pandemic is things are happening constantly and not knowing when things will change or end, so I think not knowing when the stress will end creates additional stress,” she said.

Bentley saw first hand what students were dealing with.

“Education can be hard for some people,” she said.

Learning online was one thing for Tidwell.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” she said. “That has been so hard.”

But dating online was another.

“That’s something I’ve heard from all my roommates,” she said.

The students may be far apart, but they’ve been surviving this pandemic together.

“I am optimistic,” Tidwell said.

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