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Columbia Business Monthly

Higher Education: Renewing Its Purpose

Oct 03, 2022 11:16AM ● By Owen Kowalewski

Higher education institutions have taken big hits to their programs as they try to escape the effects of Covid-19. It has been over 30 months since the pandemic first caused a shutdown, yet, as we continue to get back into the groove of life as we knew it, institutions are still struggling to get on track, including colleges and universities. 

Enrollment and, in turn, tuition have been experiencing constant fluctuation in recent years. Big universities such as University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, and The Citadel have seen declines in enrollment after a steady increase over the previous decade. However, Clemson and other schools have been able to keep their heads above water, continuing to keep their enrollment steady during these difficult years. 

My name is Owen Kowalewski and I am a junior at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. During my time at Furman, I am working toward bachelor’s degrees in both English and political science. While Covid-19 caused my senior year of high school to be not quite how I imagined, Furman has done its best to keep my college experience unaffected by these issues. But there is only so much they can do. 

Due to the indefinite regulations caused by the pandemic, the college atmosphere was still far from normal. These limitations restricted students’ ability to host events on campus which negatively impacted campus morale and culture. We freshmen at the time knew no better, but the returning Furman students were met with a completely different environment than what they were used to, constantly missing the good old, pre-Covid days. Upperclassmen and recent graduates never got to experience Furman as they remembered it. While academics remained rigorous and were never subjected to a fully online semester after the initial isolation, college is valuable for its lessons learned both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Despite these issues, Furman has allowed me to thrive and grow in ways I did not expect. I have still managed to be a part of several groups and organizations across campus, on top of receiving a quality education. It has taught me invaluable lessons and continues to do so regardless of any obstacles that arise. 

Regulations have gradually become weaker, and it now feels almost as if it is back to normalcy. We are once again allowed to study as groups in the library, eat together in the dining hall, and tailgate at sporting events. It feels like it is finally reaching students’ expectations of what college was meant to be like. This sense of collaboration and community has been found again on campus and will continue to grow in future time.

Higher education institutions have come a long way from where they were in spring of 2020. However, there is much more work to be done in order to heal all the lasting wounds with which Covid-19 has left them and their students.