Starmount alum starts college amid pandemic

Jacob Craver on campus at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Heading off to college should be a most exciting time for a recent high school graduate. Incoming freshman this fall, however, are far from getting the college experience they expected. In March, area students thought maybe they would get a longer spring break as concerns began to arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That extended spring break then turned into an abrupt end to their final days of in class learning. Prom, graduation and everything in between was cancelled for Yadkin County high school students as well as students of all ages around the nation.

As spring became summer, the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise and changes were soon announced for how universities would operate in the fall.

Jacob Craver, a 2020 graduate of Starmount High School, should be having the time of his life as a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After just a few days spent on campus, however, Craver and all his fellow Tar Heels had to pack up and move back home.

Craver served as the student representative for the Yadkin County Board of Education during his final year as a Starmount Ram. He was also involved with SkillsUSA as a state officer and national voting delegate, HOSA President, National Honor Society (president), Beta Club, Varsity Swim Team and Varsity Baseball, Shore Scholar, Ram Rowdies, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Additionally he worked at Big B Napa in Yadkinville since his junior year, and was a part of National Technical Honor Society, Starmount Booster Club, Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference. He is majoring in Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Craver shared with The Yadkin Ripple how things are going as a freshman at Carolina amid the pandemic.

In his own words:

“College is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. Normally, I believe it would be, but during Covid-19 this is not so. Before I even began at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I was informed that I would have three in-person classes and had to wear a mask everywhere I went. This wasn’t so bad at first but when I arrived at school I was told that I only had one in-person class left. Physical Education twice a week became something I really looked forward to.

“We also weren’t allowed to closely associate with others. Even if you had a roommate, you weren’t allowed to sit with them in the dining hall to eat. Things quickly began to feel like a prison. The walls of my single-person room started to get closer and closer. The only people enjoying college were the ones who got us all sent home. So, after 12 days, I packed up and moved back home. I took a COVID-19 test due to being in a hot spot, that came back negative. Let me say, that experience was not fun either.

“UNC is already a hard-enough school in-person however, it is much harder online. The online classroom experience is not adequate to teach college material. We only get short videos with one example problem. From this we are expected to know the material. This is no way to teach at any level much less college. I have a chemistry lab and even the professor isn’t sure how he’s going to do this online. My PE class now consists of me making videos of myself and sending them to the Teaching Assistant. There is no working with classmates and no study groups. The university has given us the option to take classes on a pass/fail basis.

“Everyone talks about the college experience. There was no meeting or making friends. There was no going to football games or tailgating. I did watch baseball practice a time or two and women’s field hockey practice, but that was it. Now that I am at home, I have interaction with my family and friends. I have returned to working part-time which is a stress relief from schoolwork. This experience made me appreciate home more than I already did. I plan on reaching out to my high school teacher for some guidance on chemistry and have already gotten help from my aunt and uncle who are both UNC alumni. If campus does not fully open for the Spring semester, I plan to remain at home taking online classes. Looking forward, I will appreciate just how good things were before the outbreak of the virus.”

Part two of a three-part series on the experiences of Yadkin County high school graduates.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.