Students and parents adjust their expectations for the first day of college online
Everyone remembers their first day of college.
It may mark the day you met your lifelong best friend or left home for the first time and had a tearful goodbye with your family. Maybe you joined the wrong conference and sat embarrassed at the back of the room, or even felt the sudden weight of adulthood fall on your shoulders.
But when the class of 2024 think back to their early days at college, their memories may be drastically different from those of any previous year.
With online classes and residence hall limitations, the university will not be welcoming students to campus with the normal celebrations. As a result, incoming freshmen have had to adjust their expectations for the start of their college careers.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Henry T. Yang announced in June that classes for the fall term would be primarily online, later confirming that less than 3% of classes would be in person and that freshman housing would be limited to certain individual occupancies. rooms. This flurry of new changes has placed many incoming students’ fall term plans on shaky ground.
For new freshmen like Anshul Panda, learning that he would be spending his early college years behind a computer left him with mixed emotions. As a specialist in pre-stats and data science, Panda said his primary concern was staying motivated while mourning the loss of the iconic Year One experience.
“Of course, in college, students need to be more independent and motivated as people and in the classroom, but students who learn better on their own may be better off than those who aren’t,” said Panda.
Panda also said he worries he will miss the classroom experience and personal interactions that come with in-person instruction.
For pre-economics major Priti Sharma, the first day of college might not be so different from her last days of high school – conducted virtually. Either way, after a summer of social distancing and quarantine, she said jumping into the fall term would be a bittersweet welcome to the new school year.
Sharma has decided to stay home for the fall term, but is worried about making friends who can support her through her classes and spend time with in her spare time.
“Because I’m staying home for the fall, I’m really scared that I won’t be able to find people to be friends with and study with,” Sharma said.
New freshman pre-biology major Audrey Pham said the news of an online fall term came as no surprise to her, as her senior year of high school was cut short due to the pandemic.
“A few months ago, I was really hoping that [fall quarter] would be in person, but by this point I’ve gotten used to the idea of online school,” Pham said.
Pham is still struggling to decide where to live for the fall term and weighs the options of staying home or moving to Isla Vista. UC Santa Barbara will only be partially open and she expects opportunities to meet other students will be lost this term. She also worries about feeling homesick as she is relegated to studying in her room.
“If I stayed home, yes, I’d miss the whole dorm experience, but in reality, there’s likely to be more to do at home than on campus,” Pham said.
However, not all students are browsing online school for the first time this year. Kylee Lou, a first-year psychology and brain science student, feels she has an edge over most other students. She graduated in April from Connections Academy, an online K-12 public school, and is currently enrolled in the Freshman Summer Start Program (FSSP).
“Honestly, I feel like my transition from high school to college was a lot better than I thought, even with online classes, because of my online school experience and FSSP,” said Lou.
Like Lou, future freshman English major Maya Dighe said the online fall term wouldn’t be much of a transition for her, having been homeschooled her entire college career from K-12. year.
“I’m used to taking classes online, so if anything, the transition for me would be to take classes in person,” Dighe explained. “However, I’m quite sad that we couldn’t attend the classes in person as I was really looking forward to it.”
While disappointed that classes won’t be held in person this fall, Dighe also appreciates the precautions the university is taking to keep students safe and looks forward to seeing how faculty adjust teaching to an online format.
“Hopefully teachers will be able to come up with creative solutions to compensate for the lack of in-person interactions that will occur in the fall,” Dighe said.
But not all students are so optimistic about turnout for the fall term online. Kai Brady, a student tennis player, postponed his first term at UCSB after the tennis season was postponed. He hopes to pass the time until the winter term training on his own following the UCSB tennis team training regimen.
“Because I don’t know if we would practice or if the players on the team would even show up this fall, I didn’t want to pay the quarterback to get half experience,” Brady said. “So I spoke to my coach about it, and he recommended that I postpone, so now I plan to stay at home, train, play in tournaments and become a better player overall. .”
For parents of incoming freshmen, the reality of this school year has brought disappointment and worry. A parent, Charlene Roger, is worried about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for her son as he moves into the dorms this fall.
“My husband and I are ambivalent about our son’s debut at UCSB,” Roger said. “As expected, he has concerns about how everything will turn out this year, just like us.”
Roger is primarily concerned about the quality of education his son will receive from an online format, especially in conjunction with tuition fees.
“While there may be additional costs involved in creating and delivering an online teaching platform this year, we believe students should be eligible for a discount during the period when their only option is online learning,” Roger said.
Mitch and Rowena Preciado are also sending their son to UCSB this fall. They too have reservations. The Preciados said they don’t know how well UCSB will be able to protect students from exposure to COVID-19 and how living in single-occupancy dormitories will affect students’ social and mental health.
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in IV heading towards 150 this week, the Preciados said they doubt students will follow social distancing and COVID-19 safety practices to protect and protect each other.
“The more kids you have, the harder it is to control,” Rowena said. “The virus is not something to mess around with. Your decision will affect other children and you might bring the virus to your parents if [you’re] not careful.”
Despite all these challenges and the uncertainty ahead, some students say keeping a positive outlook for the next term could be key to surviving college in the face of a pandemic.
“I’m trying to stay optimistic because it’s definitely helped me through the past two months, especially with my senior year of high school being cut short,” Pham said.
“I’m also trying to find things to be grateful for, like being able to spend more time with my family and friends back home.”