NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

An overview of Fall Semester 2020

2020 has been a roller-coaster of a year, and it has been something that we have never experienced in our lives before and would be some story to tell to future generations.

Most adults who work regular nine to five jobs were affected with this on-going pandemic through the first couple of months, but since then, along with the mandatory masks and protocols, many have adjusted to a new routine.

We take a whole different measure in students however, where the majority of schools across then nation have gone into remote learning for the first time in their lives

This has proven to be a unique experience mostly for first year college students, who twelve months ago would’ve expected their first year of college experience to turn out to be anything but the situation we’re living in today.

As the semester is coming to a close, and the first full semester since the pandemic has passed by, we take a look at the expectations vs. reality of the first semester college experience of a student through this pandemic.

Sports/Other Activities

One of the biggest changes overall has been activities in sports.

In colleges, activities such as sports, music, arts, etc. have taken a temporary pause as these activities mainly require in-person contact.

Some students on scholarships, not just at NECC, have been able to compete in their sports this semester, however with certain protocols, no big crowds, and the changes in scheduling games and practice, the experience just hasn’t been the same.


Another big change, and one that has the most effects on students, has been the classes and learning environment.

A packed classroom with 20-30 students starting at the teacher for an hour long while he or she is giving out some sort of lecture is the expectations of most college students entering their first semester rof the year.

However, online platforms such as Zoom have been popular for classes this year, where students, and teachers too at times, have problems from the wi-fi being too slow to someone’s microphone not being good enough for the people in the class to hear.

In general, the expectations that someone would have entering their first year of college wouldn’t have been entering the wrong Zoom class or not being able to hand in their assignment on time as the power cuts off in the middle of their project.


The most unique experience for first time college students in general, has been the lack of interactions among peers.

With remote-learning, and specifically the freshmen college students who aren’t familiar with anyone in their school, communication with others around has been very limited.

This has affected classes where communication is key the most, such as journalism, where students need to reach out to others to interact with them about their opinions on certain topics.

This has been hard for those students, since access to other students are limited and teachers aren’t as easy to reach out to.

Students in general haven’t gotten to experience as much with the new remote-learning, such as the classic college partying or hangouts that high school seniors dream about after graduation.

General Thoughts

Overall, this has been a tough year for college students and the freshmen expected their first year of college to be an experience of a lifetime.

The little things such as walks to classes on campus, the struggle to find where those classes are, and the opportunity to get to know new people, is something most college students want to get back to.

As the first semester ends, we are all hoping to see a new positive light going into 2021, and there is definitely much optimism about what the new year will bring.

If remote-learning will continue throughout the second semester, which it probably will, then at least we’ll be able to know what to expect and what the experience is like compared to the first semester.