APU life is brand new to over half the student body. What’s it like to be a student now and how has campus life changed? 

When the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world last year, college campuses everywhere shut down. Campus life, in-person classes and sports became a thing of the past. APU was left deserted. 

In preparation for the return this fall, the university underwent a lot of change and redevelopment this summer. Campus dining options, chapel attendance regulations and even the end to APU football are some of the major differences upperclassmen returned to. 

Although there are a lot of changes for those who attended APU pre-pandemic, freshmen and sophomores are experiencing life on campus for the first time. 

At the beginning of every fall semester, freshmen are welcomed onto campus during Welcome Weekend, a weekend full of fun activities for students and their families. This year, APU’s Welcome Weekend at the end of August was dedicated not just to freshmen, but also sophomores who didn’t experience the warm welcome last year. 

A lot of students said they enjoyed the live outdoor concert where the band joan performed. The concert took place at the Dillon Recreational Complex on East Campus. Other activities included the APU community fair, campus tours, Alpha group time and the candela ceremony on West Campus. 

“I was really grateful to get to experience Welcome Weekend as a sophomore. It was a lot of fun and made me feel like APU is my home,” said sophomore psychology major Keelie Koepp. 

The freshmen and sophomores were also introduced to APU dining services. This year there are five services: Shalom Cafe, Cougar’s Den Cafe and Mexicali Grill on East Campus and Hillside Grounds and Sam’s Subs on West Campus.

More than 50% of underclassmen said they prefer to hangout on East Campus. The restaurants and easy access to amenities like the library and Cougar Walk create a community-like environment on this side of school. 

Though East Campus was still a hit before the pandemic, West Campus was home to Heritage Court, making it the preferred place to hangout for many. This area was a designated dining space that featured three food stops. The court was a great place for students on West Campus to hang out with friends, study or take a break in between classes. 

Upperclassmen were disappointed in the temporary removal of Heritage Court while it’s being renovated. 

“APU is extremely different now without Heritage. It was one of my favorite places to eat and hang with friends and I loved that it was on West Campus,” said senior nursing major Brett Cabral. 

Though this has been a let down, there are also some new changes to campus dining that students are excited about. Many students mentioned how useful the online food ordering company Grubhub is. With COVID-19 cases still high, takeout remains a popular option. Because APU partners with Grubhub to give students the option to order takeout, it’s a favorite for many. 

Grubhub became available to students before the pandemic, but the need for the service increased this semester. Both underclassmen and upperclassmen said they love the convenience of not waiting in lines. Many prefer to take the food home altogether. 

“I used to enjoy eating on campus and I didn’t mind waiting in the long lines. But after becoming a pro at ordering takeout during the pandemic, it’s a lot more convenient to take advantage of Grubhub now on campus,” said senior criminal justice major Madison Salgado.  

APU chapel services are another post pandemic change. Although they have remained online for over a year now, services are now held in person as well. Students have the choice to attend however they like and are only required to receive credit twice a week. 

Though there is the option of attending in person, most students prefer watching chapel online. According to a group of freshmen, they are unsure about the in person experience and believe watching chapel online is easier to fit into their schedules.

With all the change and difference surrounding students this year, it can be difficult to find your close group of friends right away. But APU continues to promote an environment where students feel welcomed and at home. Underclassmen are encouraged to seek out D-Groups Ministry or Peer Mentors to connect with others. 

For more information on what community organizations APU has to offer, visit their website at https://www.apu.edu/campus-ministry/mentoring/

It is challenging to adapt to a new environment but APU is proud to welcome back all students. Whether you are a newbie or returner, welcome to the ZU!