‘Five months into uni, I have only met five people’: Lincoln freshers regret starting uni in 2020

‘It does make me wonder if deferring a year would have been better’

The coronavirus pandemic has changed young people’s lives drastically. Third years are graduating without graduation, courses have moved completely online, and first years have started the best time of their lives through self-isolation, Microsoft Teams, and two national lockdowns. It goes without saying, many students have been having an extremely tough time since March 2020 and not much has changed.

A group of students who have been particularly affected are the freshers. They have not known the uni life that was hyped up to them by their peers, elder siblings, or YouTube vlogs, and many regret coming to uni in the first place.

The Lincoln Tab spoke to students in their first year of university who say they regret joining uni this academic year.

Michael* told The Tab he regrets coming to uni “because of the lack of social interaction”.

“It is understandable but since coming to uni I have only been out once and I have only met the people I went out with”, he said. “It annoys me that I could have had a similar and more frequent experience if I joined next year instead.”

Some students were able to have their rent reduced by 20 per cent earlier this year, however that wasn’t the same for everyone. Michael says his accommodation is “expensive”, costing £590 a month.

Michael said: “I can’t get a job because of Covid so I have had to rely on my maintenance loan which is only £1,400 every three months which has left me scavenging for money.”

He isn’t eligible for the financial aid the uni provides and is still paying full price for his accommodation, despite not living there since moving back home for his mental health.

At first, the online work was “fine” but since moving back home, he has “near to no motivation other than the stress of leaving it to the last minute.”

First year Luke* regrets coming to uni because he hasn’t had the “student experience”. He feels as though he has been “robbed” of what he says “should have been a big part of my youth.”

Luke moved into his student accommodation the day before his course started. “That was bad in itself because I didn’t have any time to explore Lincoln or get to know anyone”, he said. “We were basically just thrown into it.”

The city freshers events were cancelled, and so Luke “didn’t really have the chance to get to know anyone.”

The only opportunity Luke had to get to know people on his course was before and after in-person seminars. However due to the second national lockdown in November, they roughly had five of those seminars. At the start of November, Luke went home: “I figured I don’t really know anyone, I could at least hang out with some of my friends at home. So the entire time I was down there [Lincoln] the only people I met were my flatmates, around five of my coursemates and one girl from Tinder.

“I haven’t made friends with anyone else. I have occasionally spoken to a few people online but it’s hard to get to know anyone naturally. You meet people in online seminars and society events but you can’t really have private conversations with any of them since it’s an online class.

“To sum up my uni experience so far, five months into the course I have met five people, been to 10 seminars, met one person outside my of my course and I’ve been on one night out.”

Michelle* told The Lincoln Tab the only reason she didn’t defer a year was because there was nothing else for her to do. While she was at uni, Michelle felt like she was going around in circles of self-isolation, to going to face-to-face seminars.

She said: “As soon as we went back after a self-isolation, there was another one pretty much straight after and then obviously the lockdown. For me personally, being at uni made me feel so trapped because it was often just being stuck inside a tiny room and a kitchen which can be quite hard on your mental health.

“Obviously, I know it was unavoidable but it does make me wonder if deferring a year would have been better.”

Chelsea* is in her second year at the University of Lincoln and she also regrets coming to uni. She said: “I feel like I have missed out on a whole year of uni because I have barely seen my friends. I’ve been into uni four times this semester. I’m doing an unpaid placement next year that isn’t in Lincoln, so I won’t even get to have the uni experience with my friends.

“If I’d have known I would have zero uni experience this year, I would have deferred a year if I could. I have been refused a rent reduction when I will have only been in my student house 16/51 weeks, and so it’s really frustrating and I feel like I have wasted 15 grand on student loans this year.”

*All names were changed or omitted to ensure anonymity

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