The Colorado State University campus is seen on Friday, August 13, 2021, in Fort Collins. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

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A sophomore like Joshua Duran typically would know the ins and outs of Colorado State University by the start of his second year.

But as Duran helped sign up students interested in the United Men of Color student organization during this week’s Fall Student Involvement Expo, he found he didn’t know much about the Fort Collins campus.

Duran, 18, spent most of his first year at CSU in his dorm room, taking classes online due to campus COVID restrictions.

“I’m trying to get answers to questions I don’t know,” Duran said. “I’m like, ‘I can get back to you on that. I can ask a third-year.’ But I also like the feeling that I get from that connection. I like knowing that I’m not alone in not knowing stuff because we are all trying to figure this out.”

After a pandemic year, students across Colorado and the country share Duran’s struggles in figuring out a return to college life. And Colorado State University administrators share in the challenge other college leaders face trying not just to integrate those students this year, but also address the pandemic’s lasting impacts.

Administrators said that it will require plenty of patience and extra attention as students grapple with their physical health, mental health, and the impacts of isolation.

“We know students are returning to campus still in the middle of a global pandemic, which two months ago we did not imagine this is where we would be sitting,” said Leslie Taylor, vice president of enrollment and access. “We are evaluating all of our practices and our policies to make sure that we’re doing the best that we can for our students.”


Jason Gonzales is the Higher Education and Legislative Matters Reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado. Previously, he covered K-12 and higher education for The Tennessean and Brunswick County for the Wilmington Star News. He is a 2018 Education Writers...