Josh Andersen and his senior classmates have a quirky distinction: as the 2021-2022 academic year begins, they’re the only students on campus at The College of Idaho to complete a school year, start to finish, in person.
Thanks to COVID-19, the sophomore class started with remote and hybrid classes last year. And the juniors had their first year on campus abruptly cut short when the pandemic really took hold in the United States in March of 2020 and the College shifted to online learning to complete the school year.
The seniors, though, had a full freshman experience before the highly unusual circumstances of the past two years and are anxious for a full senior experience this year, beginning with Wednesday’s first day of classes on campus.
“It’s been great going back to the Caf (Simplot Dining Hall) and seeing people,” said Andersen, a political economy major. “The number of voices that resonate within the cafeteria is one of those things you forget about until you’re into it, this is what it’s like to be in the Caf at lunchtime.”
Andersen is one of the College’s student leaders who organized tours for new students on campus which, as he pointed out, included a large number of sophomores who attended all classes online during their freshman year.
Junior Jahona Akbarova, an international student from Tajikistan, had her freshman year cut short when the pandemic struck but wasn’t able to go home. Like many international students, she remained on campus and took her courses online last year from her dorm room.
“Everyone is smiling, everyone is happy. It was wonderful to see everyone, to have the in-class interactions,” said Akbarova, a business administration major. “Last year, when we were here, it was quite sad to see the campus empty.”
College leadership is hopeful the campus community is able to remain in the classroom for the entire academic year but stays in contact with health officials and continues to monitor COVID-19 developments to provide the safest environment possible for students, faculty, and staff. Meanwhile, students aren’t taking college life for granted.
“The little moments we get to have, like sitting in the Caf and having breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, that is a really wonderful thing to have,” Akbarova said. “When you see people walking around, they give you so much positive energy.”
She said the word she’d use to describe the feeling is warmth. Andersen feels it as well.
“Everyone just relishes the smiles and the people they get to see,” Andersen said. “We’ll hopefully do what it takes to stay back in person.”
To see some of those smiles and those faces, check out the College's gallery from the first day of class on Flickr.
The College of Idaho has a 130-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.