Ria Goveas ’25: My senior year of high school, which was entirely remote, ended with no senior trip, a cancelled prom and virtual graduation — an anticlimactic finish to 12 years of schooling. My friends from school and I had been connecting virtually the entire year, so saying goodbye to them before college was not nearly as emotional as it should have been. I was so excited to be part of the Wellesley Green Class of 2025, to be on an actual campus and go to in-person classes again.
Charlotte Henry ’24: The Class of 2024 also grappled with a complicated first year, enduring on-campus losses that rang familiar following an unexpected end to our high school careers. Celebrating holidays alone, living without roommates and partaking in online school did not shock those of us who had already lost closing seasons of a cherished sport, final days on campus with lifelong friends and graduation celebrations at the end of senior year.
Planning for college for the Red Class of 2024 presented vast uncertainties, heavily impacted by the pressing fear of COVID-19 and the tightened restrictions that it promised. I recall my senior spring break trip. In the last months of high school, we drove 14 hours to Florida while wondering about our school’s concern for the oncoming pandemic, still hoping it might bring a bonus week of vacation. I could not have predicted this world, one where a week of Zoom classes would morph into an indefinite cycle of virtual learning, and we would gladly trade that extra week of break for those few months of in-person classes. I think it was the lack of preparation that hit my class the hardest. We faced the end of 12 years of what was supposed to have been a predictable education, while accepting that the college lives we had been promised would not be what we expected.
R: Because of COVID-19, I, like many others in the Class of 2025, had never visited campus before move-in day. The first time I connected with Wellesley was virtually through the Class of 2025 Facebook page. I even found my roommate through the Instagram page, where we bonded after reading each other’s introductory posts. The pandemic has definitely changed what my comfort zone involves — I would have never imagined that I would commit to living with someone after Zoom calling them once, but I did, and so far, it seems worth it.
C: As the summer before my first year of college dragged on, I found myself being drawn to my friends and family at home in Kansas City. It was comfortable learning my way through the early pandemic amongst my parents, siblings, and small bubble of longtime friends, making the oncoming rush of college seem distant and unreal. I don’t consider myself the most outgoing on social media, and I’ve only just broached the grand threshold of making Instagram comments, so I was not cut out for a universe of virtual communication. When the summer ended, I was forced to reckon with how little I really knew about communicating via the internet. My blockmates were strangers, my classmates were simply faces on a screen, and my campus was a maze I was frightened to navigate alone. Yet, as with everything else the past year brought, my class collectively took up these new challenges.
R: I truly believe the Wellesley 2025 Discord server was one of the most impactful ways the class of 2025 came together. The Discord had channels to ask upperclassmen questions, for yearning about Wellesley, for hobbies; you name it, someone from Wellesley was talking about it. Although I was too nervous to actually say anything on the server (except for one time on the anonymous confessions channel), reading the messages and seeing how everybody was living through the same experiences, all the way from virtual school ending, to packing for college, to the stress of class registration, to waiting to be out of in-room restriction (misery loves company!) made me feel like I was part of a tight-knit community. I definitely think I was much better prepared for college because of the Wellesley Discord community.
C: For the past year the Class of 2024 has maintained a growing GroupMe where people occasionally turn for burning questions, and we share a Facebook page. While I initially shied away from these groups, I have watched them grow and become something useful for a year that has been divided. With the start of this school year, the Class of 2024 came together for the first time — over a year after our first day of college — and we have successfully formed small communities in Zoom meetings, socially-distanced classrooms and social media outlets. In my experience, very few of these virtual resources made me feel truly connected, but I am so happy to see how the class below mine has taken them and grown from what we started. Mostly though, I feel deeply connected to the people I met last year because none of us had a clue what we were doing. Yes, in many ways we are like the Class of 2025 as they arrive on a slightly more normal campus for the very first time, but we are also drawn together by how we learned to cope with our own first year. As we find ourselves slowly remembering how to be social and create communities outside of a computer screen, I feel we can all be proud and excited to have reached this point.
R: Looking towards this new year, I wonder if forming these online relationships really made me better prepared for my freshman year this fall. Whether I recognize people from Instagram or Discord (and match username to face) or not, I am still slightly nervous to reach out. However, the internet connections have definitely made me more excited to come to campus because I got to interact online with all these smart, amazing people who I’m sure will be even more vibrant on campus. I’m thrilled to be part of the Green Class of 2025, and I can’t wait to see what incredible things people are going to do through these four years together and after we graduate.
It’s amazing how the Classes of 2024 and 2025 have evolved, growing from Zoom novices and strangers to virtual education into confident individuals, engaged entirely electronically. We have not been disrupted by this pandemic — we have evolved and adapted to a temporary new normal. Both classes, however, are all left puzzling over the same simple question — what on earth is any of this stuff normally like? Was there always a sign up for orientation events? Did Wellesley always send us this many emails? Regardless, these questions do not come from a place of yearning or regret — we have made the most of the college experience too, just in a different way.