‘I feel isolated and alone’: Almost half of York freshers regret coming to uni this year

47 per cent of freshers told us they regret coming to York in the middle of a pandemic

Almost half of York freshers say they regret coming to university this year, a York Tab poll has found.

University is normally marketed as the best years of our lives, but this year has been a hell of a lot different. Whether it be the lack of in person lectures (Miss you SLB x), lack of sports socials or just meeting others outside your household, it’s difficult for freshers not to feel short-changed with the experience they’ve been given.

With the wildest nights spent drinking in flat kitchens or freezing in a marquee at best, this year’s freshers don’t know the joys of Wednesday night Salvos or bonding over cheesy chips and gravy in Salt and Pepper. Therefore, we asked this year’s freshers how Covid-19 has impacted the first year of their degree and whether they regret coming to York in the midst of a global pandemic.

Many freshers said they lacked the ‘typical’ university experience

With most students completing an online degree from their bedrooms and the only social interactions being with the same housemates, the overwhelming majority of students said the part they missed most was the social aspect of university: nights out, societies and many York traditions such as Summer Ball or Roses.

Ellie, a first year Psychology student said: “Whilst I don’t think I’ve really missed much academically, I think I’ve missed a lot socially. I’m a very sporty person so wanted to get involved with a lot of sports but couldn’t really as nothing was happening.”

She went on to say: “I didn’t get on with my flat so I don’t really have a friendship group other than a couple of people from my course. But my gap year fell to pieces as I was meant to be traveling, so I don’t regret coming this year as I would have nothing else to do, but I certainly have missed out on a lot.”

Freshers have had to find new ways of having fun this year.

Freshers have had to adapt to the new normal

Many thought they were wasting money

A big part of this year has been gambling government restrictions as to whether we can return to our student accommodation. Despite rent refunds for on-campus students, many feel as though they could have saved money completing their degree from home. A mature student, Greg, suggested if he’d have known he would have saved money and completed his course from home as he is now “tied to an expensive flat in York, had to find a new job, and deal with crap Zoom workshops.”

Another student, Lucy a first year studying Psychology, suggested: “I definitely feel we’ve missed out having been at uni for only two months. Many of us have followed the Government advice to remain at home. Personally, I wouldn’t have deferred because I would have wasted a gap year, but there is part of me that regrets going as it feels like I’m wasting money.”

Many pointed out that their mental health has suffered as a result of the pandemic

In a poll ran by the Nottingham Tab, they found that 92 per cent of students said their mental health has suffered as a result of the pandemic.   

Many students at York felt a similar way, with one Environmental Science fresher saying their mental health deteriorated quickly as soon as they moved to university “mostly due to feeling really isolated and alone and not being able to get to know anyone on the same course.” They have since left halls, are finishing their first year at home and transferring to a different university next year.

However, many said they’re glad for the people they’ve met at York this year

53 per cent of freshers responded saying they didn’t regret coming to York this year, leaving 47 per cent regretting their decision to attend university in the midst of a global pandemic.

Many say that without the people they have met, they would have regretted their decision. Alyssia, a first year Maths student said: “It’s difficult because I met people I love and have enjoyed first year but it’s just not the same even though its’ been fun.” She went on to say: “Without the people this year, I definitely would have regretted coming to university.”

Many other students agree, saying that although their experience hasn’t been the same, they don’t regret coming as it gave them a change of scenery and to meet new people. Laura, a first year studying Sociology and Education highlights: “Uni has definitely been different than I expected because of Covid but I’m glad I went because it’s kept me busy in a time when there’s not much on and I’ve been able to interact with my flatmates who are my own age, whereas if I had stayed home I’d have struggled to see my friends.”

She went on to say: “I think I would  have regretted going to uni this year if I didn’t get along with my flatmates though as they’re the only people I’ve really got to know this year.”

Socialising has been very different this year

Starting university in the middle of a pandemic was never going to be plain sailing. And although many regretted coming to York this year due to the social aspect, the majority are glad of the chance to meet new people and gain new experiences, even if it is in a Covid-safe manner. But as restrictions continue to ease and university life gradually gets back to normal, things can only look up for next year’s freshers.

A guide to the mental health support available for students at York can be found here. 

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