Penn State Students Reflect On Their First Semester Back to ‘Normalcy’

Story posted December 2, 2021 in News, CommRadio by Lizzie Friel

The Fall 2021 semester has reminded Penn State students what campus life was like before COVID-19, in more ways than one.

A Penn State administrative press release on August 4, 2021, just before the start of the semester, issued a masking mandate for indoor university buildings across all campuses.

Many students at University Park, however, feel as though campus life has finally returned to “normalcy,” besides wearing masks in class.

A 2020 study done by the International Journal of Technology and Education Sciences demonstrated through a survey-style study that college students who were once being taught in person, and were forced to transition to Zoom during the pandemic, perceived online learning as having a negative effect on their learning experience, and their motivation to learn.

Fourth-year student David Mattiola (fourth-year / management), is just one of the students experiencing the benefits of the returned in-person instruction, and social events.

“It’s been fantastic being able to go out with my friends and enjoy myself instead of having to be locked up in my room,” Mattiola said. “Same goes for classes…I really enjoy being able to participate and being a part of class, instead of sitting in front of a screen.”

Some students have even found a greater appreciation for in-person learning, and a stronger urge to attend classes now after over a year of predominantly remote classes, including fourth-year student Kelley Thomas (fourth-year / marketing).

“I feel a lot more motivated when I’m learning in the classroom rather than online,” Thomas said. “I feel like there’s a lot less distractions and it’s a lot easier to pay attention and take notes when you’re in person.”

Though plans for a complete on-campus experience have resumed with the start of the fall semester, the university aims to keep the community safe by issuing weekly COVID-19 testing for all students and employees who are unvaccinated.

Lizzie Friel is a fourth-year studying digital/print journalism. To contact her, email