How students and parents are navigating the changing college experience amid COVID-19

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The pandemic continues to change the college experience. Many colleges and universities have already shifted from in-person to all-remote learning this semester. Some parents and students spoke with KYW Newsradio about how schools are managing the situation.

Bamby Bergeron's son is a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She says the school has been open with its plans, has given students options for living on campus or remotely, and she understands why schools can't reduce tuition.

"Even though you're doing remote learning, the professors still need to prepare and they are still giving of their time, even though they’re not physically in the building," she said.

Nicholas Goodyear, a senior at Temple University, believes it was unrealistic to think students wouldn't be social, and colleges should have known COVID-19 cases would spike on campuses.

"This is a college, these are 18-year-olds, these are 19 and 20-year-olds who have just been cooped up in their house for like three of four months prior to this with their parents, and have been told all their life that college is the best years of your life," he said. 

"What do you think they're going to do? They're going to go out and party."

Kristin Matthews' son is a sophomore at UMass Amherst where classes are all online. She says they decided having him live in an off-campus apartment would still provide some of the college experience. 

But it's a much different experience. Kids get tested weekly for COVID-19 and there's no dining hall service.

"I also think the thing that's been a little bit frustrating, maybe for some people, and students especially, is that there are some that are open," Matthews said. 

"There are a lot of schools that just kind of went back and then the kids are watching their classmates go back and they don’t get to go back."

Penn State sophomore Owen DelMonte is taking mostly remote classes, but still living near campus.

"There's a lot less resources," he said. "I used to always go to study groups. Now those study groups are being moved to online and I find it trickier. However, I do believe the school has done a really great job in trying to give as many resources to the students as possible to compensate."

DelMonte believes students should be responsible but universities also need to have more security in place to prevent large gatherings.

"I think realistically you need to find some sort of middle ground to where, yes, we need to account for student behavior but we need to now account for student behavior and then translate that to how we're going to write our policies," he shared.

However, DelMonte remains optimistic that things will get back to normal on campus.