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  • Ashlyn Bolger

How COVID Has Changed My Entire College Experience

As we all know by now, COVID isn't going anywhere any time soon, which has caused every single person to adjust their ways of living. As for me, a college student studying Retail & Consumer Behavior and Digital Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my ways of living have shifted tremendously, but not just in the area of learning and academics.

As I have mentioned in a recent Tik Tok (@perodigm), all of my courses for this fall semester have been moved online indefinitely. Although the first week of classes in September started out as hybrid (50% in-person & 50% online), it has since been adjusted due to the growing cases in Wisconsin, particularly in the campus area. Due to this shift to remote learning, I have learned to utilize multiple communication software programs such as Zoom, Kaltura, BBCollaborate, and Microsoft Teams in order to participate in lectures and stay up to date with my courses. However, online learning is not the only time where I have to utilize these virtual resources.

Another large event that had to adapt to a virtual shift was Greek Life Formal Recruitment. I sit on the Executive Board of my sorority on campus as the Vice President of Communications, where I oversee and plan all modes of public relations and marketing for our chapter. As Fall Recruitment is a very large event where over 1,000 girls take part, my team had to strategize quickly in order to virtually promote the recruitment process, which involved videography, graphics, frequent posts, and personally, direct-messaging any girl interested. I also worked closely with our Membership Vice President in order to successfully navigate and execute the online application we use during the recruitment process. While the recruitment process is a multi-round event that, until this year, has always taken place in-person at our sorority house, we had to adjust our modes of delivery when it came to promoting our chapter, which involved numerous Zoom-preparation sessions in order to effectively prepare all 200 of our members. Greek Life is not the only on-campus organization that was forced to go virtual. For example, I am an active member in the Student Retail Association on campus where we would normally partake in monthly in-person meetings; however, and unsurprisingly, our meetings have shifted to Zoom as well.

Even though these virtual protocols have put a damper on my semester, the shift to online has also opened some doors for students. For example, earlier this week, I attended a virtual career fair to gain more insight regarding internships in my field for the Summer of 2021. Due to the online format, I was able to easily meet with many more companies that possibly wouldn't have been present at an in-person career fair on the UW Madison Campus. This virtual career fair allowed me to connect with so many companies through video chat, which, to my delight, was just as engaging as it would've been in-person. Although the remainder of my academic school year is up-in-the-air as COVID cases continue to fluctuate, I've found new and exciting ways to adapt to online learning with the added benefit of learning how to use new software, which will be extremely helpful in my future endeavors.

- Ashlyn Bolger

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