Coastal Carolina University faced an unexpected semester this past fall.
Despite students starting class on Aug. 20, students found themselves packing up their stuff during the weekend of Sept. 8 as Hurricane Florence approached the Carolina coast. Campus officially closed the night of Sep. 11 and for 19 days students and faculty waited to get the notification to return to campus.
Many students stayed with friends because they were unable to return to their families. Thinking it would only take a week; some students didn’t walk with their school work.
While University of South Carolina students were out for three days, CCU was out for three weeks.
You could say the break was well spent, but not everyone could reach Moodle. Learning was delayed which made it harder to catch up when everyone returned. Students made their way back the weekend of Sept. 28 through the 30. With only two months to go until finals; CCU had to find their way back on track.
Ashlynne Fountain, a honors freshman history major, dreamed about coming to CCU ever since her freshman year of high school. She mentioned that because no one from her hometown attended Coastal Carolina University; being a part of the honors college and marching band, as a clarinet player, helped her make a lot of friends before school started.
“If it wasn’t for that week I wouldn’t have the same friends I have now,” she said.
When Florence came around she was “so upset because [she] was just ready to get out of her hometown.” She wanted to experience a life, academically and socially. Fountain was in the groove and the fact that she was caught off guard made her worry,
“You’re here for three weeks and then you’re gone for three weeks,” she said.
Fountain did not waste her break, she joined her friends on mini day trips to North Carolina, Atlanta, and Tennessee. She was taking seven classes and when she returned Fountain had to drop her English 102 because of the workload and her unavailability to make it to the writing center.
“I felt like I was betraying my professor for the class that I dropped,” she said.
Fountain was affected financially this pass semester because of financial aid. She has the state scholarships and the ones CCU gave her.
“[I’m] here on a thin line, if [I] can’t keep [my] grades up to retain these scholarships and to retain the amount of financial aid that [I get] from the FAFSA [then it’s over],” she said.
Fountain never really was able to get back to where she was before Florence. She did not want the Christmas break and feels that, “every professor should have been forced to accept any late work because the fact that they were denying people late work from the hurricane was literally insane.”
She was fortunate to have professors who were lenient, but she knows some people who are on academic probation for inconsideration.
“I feel for you; if you failed don’t feel bad. I know so many super intelligent people who failed classes and had an awful semester and that is not a reflection of their character at all. It was a reflection of the month that we missed,” she said.
Liana Robbins, a sophomore communications major, started school late due to the university having a hold on her classes due to financial aid. They canceled all of the classes she signed up for at the end of her freshman year so she entered her sophomore year a week later. She was only in school for two weeks before she was interrupted by Florence.
Robbins was not notified by any of her professors over break about assignments so when she returned she had an overload because none of her professors picked Saturday classes.
“It was a rushed semester,” she said.
Robbins was unable to work at Starbucks for three weeks due to Florence, so her financial situation was unfortunate. She didn’t have to withdraw from any classes because her professors eventually worked out a smooth schedule for their students.
Her GPA skyrocketed and she is pleased and grateful she didn’t have to suffer academically.
“I was out of work and I couldn’t go to school,” said Robbins. “ However, just because I know people were expecting us to fail our classes or drop out, I had to work that much harder and I ended up leaving the semester with a 3.5 on the Dean's List.”
In the end she felt as though the break benefited her because it gave Robbins a chance to get herself together.
“Communicate with your teachers and don’t give up just because it gets a little hard,” said Robbins. “You might not want to stay up late, but sometimes you have to fight through in order to succeed.”
Nina McCoy, a junior marine science major, was ready to go home when it was time to evacuate.
She knew her professors were going to reach out so she didn’t worry, but “with [her] labs and lectures trying to cram so much information into [her] head in such a short period of time and gave [her] tests right after it wasn’t fair.”
McCoy was not able to get back into her routine when she returned from Florence.
“Coming back here I still felt overwhelmed from all of the stuff and I was trying to catch up,” she said.
She says she could have done way better if it wasn’t for Florence; her GPA went down a lot.
“It was a waste for the classes to retake them and having to pay for them all over again,” she said.
She was able to keep her Academic Common Market scholarship despite her academic struggles. McCoy wished Coastal Carolina University would have been more considerate when it came to everyone’s academic status, but the break was well deserved because of the stress it put us through.
Last semester made her into a better student and made her more aware of how much damage was made due to one incident.
“Do not dwell on last semester; keep going. Do better this semester and the following semesters and hopefully we will have the hurricane in mind and will plan it out better for the future too,” she said.