Achieving the College Experience During COVID-19

Thursday, November 12, 2020

In this blog, I am going to share my personal experience as a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University to demonstrate how to get the most out of virtual college. Before the coronavirus hit, students heading to college for the first time could engage in The College ExperienceTM: studying the subject(s) you wanted, spending long nights with friends, meeting new and interesting people, and exploring what to do later in life. However, that doesn’t seem to be the experience anymore.

For example, vibrant and interactive in-person class meetings have been replaced by an emptier virtual classroom environment. Additionally, multi-occupant dorms in packed buildings, which allowed for day-in day-out interaction with friends, have been replaced by more isolated housing. It seems like many previously available social opportunities aren’t there anymore. This is true to some extent, but I am here to tell you that there are still opportunities out there for growth and socialization.

Opportunities for Growth

Let’s start with opportunities for growth. People usually find growth in doing things outside of class, like clubs or internships, and participation in both is still possible in a virtual environment. For example, I am in my school’s admissions student organization, and we would normally be running tours and other admissions events, but Hopkins has gone 100% virtual. Now we are primarily running virtual “coffee chats”, where we tell prospective students and their families about applying to Hopkins and what life is like here. I myself will be giving a “coffee chat” soon about ethnic life at Hopkins as a Hindu. In terms of internships, I was also recently accepted to a virtual internship in my school’s robotics program, and since the project is based around computer science, much of my work can be done remotely.

Benefits of Virtual Socialization

In terms of socialization, going virtual has been a fun option for me! Not only do I meet new people through the clubs and activities that I’m a part of, but I’m also able to keep in touch with any friends I make through social media. I’m mostly on Discord with a bunch of my friends from high school, and this platform allows me to chat with them either in a group message, or over direct messages. It’s great fun because it lets me talk with my friends. One of my favorite experiences with using Discord is when my friend started streaming a play-through of a game called Fallout New Vegas. He allowed us (the “audience”) to suggest what decisions to make, and of course we made him do the dumbest possible things to make his play-through really difficult. Overall, even though it may not be in-person, it was still a great way to have fun with my friends!

Flexible Learning

Finally, just to mention some logistics, the class format itself is different from before the pandemic. Different professors have come up with their own plans regarding virtual teaching. For example, some of my professors will post all their lectures at the beginning of the week instead of holding live zoom sessions, which allows their students to watch at their own leisure. Furthermore, I have also found that professors have become flexible and accommodating when it comes to deadlines on assignments you struggle on.

In all, virtual college is certainly more limited than the traditional college experience, but if you’re willing to be open minded there are still opportunities out there to experience some of the College Life.

Rishi is the Co-Vice President of Scholarship Development of the NSHSS Collegiate Council Executive Board.


Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved. 

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