For some students, returning to campus feels ’like escaping a prison’

With renovated buildings, a new chancellor, and a return to in-person learning, most students are excited to finally be back on campus.

Most of the student body feels relieved to get a full college experience once again. Although some classes will still be online only, students say they’re glad just to be back to meet new people and utilize in-person student resources.

For student Stephen Johnson, the online school platform quickly turned from a dream into a nightmare. He explained that the initial closing of in-person classes had him excited as he felt he got a much needed break. That tone quickly changed as online schooling kept getting extended for nearly two years.

“The worst part was the loneliness, then the boredom,” Johnson said, “I know the lockdowns were essential [to stop the spread], but when they announced students were coming back, it literally felt like escaping a prison,” he said. 

“I feel like I lost 2 years of my academic life, but I’m just happy to be back,” he explained further.

Now with nearly the same type of classes, he’s ready to make his experience a different one. 

Student Paris Markley, said she and her friends welcomed the addition of on-campus learning despite this being her last quarter.

 “Even though this is my last quarter, I’m glad I get to spend it with the people I like,” she said. She’s happy to see that her final quarter will be spent on campus where learning will be more interactive.

“My friends and I are glad to finally be back,” she said, “When the lockdowns first started I didn’t even get into my program yet and here I am now about to graduate.”

Markley gave some advice to the students who have just started their time at UWT and told them to make the best of it before the time ends.

“Sometimes I wish I had made more use of the time here on campus and before I knew it, it was closed for basically two years,” she said, “The advice I’d give to incoming freshmen are to utilize as much of the resources here on campus as you can and to build as many connections as you can. I didn’t and I sort of regret it.”

She encouraged students to use resources such as the Teaching and Learning Center and clubs on-campus to enhance their experience.

“I enjoyed my time here, but when I look back on it, I sort of wish I used more of the resources on campus to help me out like the TLC to help me study. I could’ve joined the Accounting Club to meet other accounting students and be more prepared for the future.”

Student Cindy Johnson had the same advice regarding joining clubs on campus, saying that there’s basically no reason not to do so.

“Joining a club’s a huge leg up when it comes to building connections and getting help finding new opportunities,” she said, “One of my internships actually came from a recruiter who joined one of our club meetings.”

“I think the school made a great decision to make school in-person again,” she said, “Now students can finally receive the full experience of UWT and they won’t miss out on anything.”

Hamza Hanfi Dilawer shared similar sentiments regarding the importance of joining clubs, but for him, the reasons for doing so came from the clubs making him feel less lonely on campus. 

“Back when there was in-person learning, I was a part of an Arabic Students Club,” he said, “I don’t know if it still exists but it helped me feel like I fit in and make more friends. We shared our problems adjusting as Arabic students and discussed how to make the best of it.”