Saturday, August 13, 2022

'It’s like starting at square one': Sophomore class arrives to campus for the first time

September 13, 2021
<p>Predominantly freshman course &quot;Creative Thinking&quot; being held in Michigan State&#x27;s Natural Resources building on Sept. 7, 2021.</p>

Predominantly freshman course "Creative Thinking" being held in Michigan State's Natural Resources building on Sept. 7, 2021.

Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

The class of 2024 has already had a college experience like no other.

Most of their freshman classes were completed off-campus, often in a childhood bedroom, over D2L and Zoom. This year’s sophomores missed out on in-person events, socialization with other new Spartans and campus life in its entirety. 

Now, after a year of virtual learning and isolation, sophomores are on campus for the first time, navigating true college life and experiencing all of the highs and lows that come with it. Many feel that a year of virtual schooling sets them back in their college experience. 

“I haven’t been around people my age in so long," neuroscience sophomore Elizabeth Cordill said via email. "When coming straight from high school, you’re able to have time to adjust and grow. I am academically a sophomore, but in every other aspect, it’s like starting at square one. It’s hard to know that if things were normal, I could’ve already acclimated to college by now.”

For most sophomores, the past week has been the first time they’ve been in an in-person classroom since high school.

Political science sophomore Chanel Stevanovich, loved online learning and preferred it over in-person.

Stevanovich said online learning allowed her to move further ahead in her degree, save money and complete her assignments much quicker than she would have been able to with in-person classes. 

However, other sophomores found online learning to be extremely difficult, referring to it as “isolating,” “difficult,” “distressing” and “disconnected.”

“(Online school) was no motivation because I was just opening up a computer and looking at a computer every day," education sophomore Autumn Turner said. "That was when I had to ask myself, ‘Is school really for me?’... I had to find the confidence and the motivation in myself.”

Regardless of different learning preferences, most sophomores agree that they are excited to be in East Lansing so they can get involved, make new friends and experience the real excitement of college.

Although MSU virtually offered clubs and activities last year, sophomores agreed Zoom interactions don’t compare to being physically present. 

“The most boring day on campus so far has been leaps and bounds better than the best day last year," elementary education sophomore Paige Drob said. "I would say the biggest difference is the ability to make actual human interactions. I can sense the mental health of myself and my peers has improved immensely.”

MSU might not look the way it did before — with social distancing and masks in classrooms — but sophomores are still making the most of their first year on campus.

“While some people might not be happy with the masks ... if that is what will allow us to be in person, then I’m all for it," media and information sophomore Mason Allen said. "Already, I’ve been given the opportunity to make new friends, finally engage in in-person clubs and get back what I think everyone has been wanting: that in-person learning.”

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