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Making College during Covid the New Normal

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

“I figured even though it wasn’t what I was used to, at least I could be on campus when so many other colleges were forced to shut their doors.”

I’m two days into my last semester at Juniata. Wow. If you’ve been reading my other blog posts, you know that I tend to get sappy about my time at Juniata ending, so I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible in this one. Since the first blog post I wrote, I’ve focused mostly on aspects of campus or opinions I hold that have been unaffected by COVID. However, after living through a semester unlike any other, I think it’s necessary to commemorate it in writing.

This semester was, as everything else in the world seems to be these days, unprecedented. Coping with the effects of a pandemic on campus was stress inducing at times but I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to create a new normal on-site instead of from my childhood bedroom in Pittsburgh.

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Juniata Esports: We Work Hard and Game Hard

Theo Weinberger
Theo Weinberger ’21, Multi-Sport Athlete

Just like there is no one “right way” for a person to go about finding their place in the Juniata community, I didn’t join the JC Eagles Esports team the “right way.” I didn’t have any knowledge of who or what would be waiting for me when I followed the flyer leading me to the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Team tryouts. As I meandered through the front door of the ESports Lounge neighboring the Tussey and Terrace Dorms, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be on the team yet. This doubt disappeared when the team captain invited me to take part in the tryouts.

The Juniata College ESports Lounge
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What I miss about Juniata over break (and what I’ll miss for the rest of my life)

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

It took me a long time to get homesick during my first year of college. I missed my family (especially my dog), of course, but the intense homesickness we often hear so much about just didn’t set in. I believe this is because I’ve always felt like Juniata is my home just as much as my real home is my home. I’m reminded of this fact every time I leave Juniata for fall, winter, spring, or summer break. No matter how long I’m away from Juniata—whether it’s four days or three months (or eight months when I studied abroad)—I find myself homesick for the same things.

The first thing I always miss—obviously—are my friends and loved ones at Juniata. My roommate, my significant other, my favorite professor, my friend group… these are all people Juniata has led me to. But more than missing just these people and the wonder and excitement they add to my life, I miss the social aspects of campus that simply don’t exist in my hometown. Things like bingo on the quad or waving hello to someone from my window in Cloister’s arch. I miss having everything I need less than a city block away from me; friends and support system included.

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Adult Students Seek Options. Graduate Programs Grow.

Juniata Admission
Juniata Admission

Options. That’s one of the most popular themes for 2020. As we work to figure out our futures, we look for options in our careers and training/education. People across the United States are being faced with making the best of a bad situation. For potential students, this can include taking on new job responsibilities due to corporate downsizing, rethinking recent career decisions, and starting over completely. For adults who already hold their bachelor’s degree, graduate programs can seem promising. That has meant a noticeable increase in first-generation graduate students.

Like any continuing education, graduate programs require some preliminary research and strategy, by the student, to best figure out which path to take and which school is the best match for them and their wallet. Because some job markets have gone from bad to worse during COVID, universities have had to revisit and reallocate resources into programs that are needed now. Dealing with that delicate balance, they still must address the new needs of their students, what’s happening now, and preparing them for the dramatic changes taking place in business and across industries.

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Black Boxes: An English Professor Reflects on Juniata’s First Hy-Flex Semester

Laura Feibush
Dr. Laura Feibush, Dept. of English

Here at the close of 2020, it’s fitting to reflect on Juniata’s first semester of hybrid-flexible learning. I’m sure I’m not alone in my feeling that hoo boy. It has been a ride.

In general, I’ve been inspired by the innovation that our COVID-induced, hy-flex fall semester has occasioned. Faculty, leadership, and administration alike have asked themselves: “What really is the essence of education?” They’ve acted on the answers with revamped and revised digital pedagogies, mental health Mountain Days, and the planning of a virtual Bailey Oratorical in the spring.

In addition to many positive developments, naturally I’ve also heard the frustrations of my colleagues. Chief among them is the problem of the black boxes: when, during Zoom classes, students opt to turn off their cameras, leaving the instructor confronted by a grid of named rectangles.

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