Sophomores went through their first year virtually lacking an interpersonal college experience. Now, as they shift from the virtual to a flourishing college campus, sophomores may have felt that they were starting from scratch.
From the changes in her social life to the geography of campus, Naomi Kil, a sophomore pre-nursing major, was eager to get back on campus to see the offerings of the UA.
Kil came to the UA with the expectation of lively activity, especially within her dorm, but began to feel isolated. The UA COVID-19 pandemic guidelines did not allow guests or neighbors to remain in each others’ rooms. Kil felt that she was able to spend time in common spaces and create friendships with her floormates but was confined to those people.
Studies on the changes of social behaviors have become hot topics of COVID-19 research. According to a study done in China towards the onset of the pandemic found that 54% of people, "rated the psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as moderate or severe."
Current freshmen may have not experienced college life virtually, but they did come from a drastic change due to the pandemic. Freshman Jacob Ayars who is majoring in engineering compared his experience to those of sophomores.
Ayars spoke about his excitement and adventurous attitude when he arrived on campus. He felt lucky to get to experience the campus up and running again but also hoped sophomores could start again with “the joy of a first year on campus.”
Kil continued to live in a dorm her sophomore year and described the differences. She interacted consistently with her dorm mates last year and now spends more time with others she met on campus and through clubs such as UA Emergency Medical Services which she joined this fall semester.
“I think, generally, I was so desperate to meet people,” Kil said.
Ayars has gotten to explore dorm life without as many restrictions and said that he tries to be friendly and says “hi” to all of his neighbors. Ayars has a brother in his junior year, Tanner Ayars, studying pharmaceutical sciences, who had his dorm life experience in his freshman year cut short. This has allowed Ayars to appreciate the opening of the UA and dorms even more.
“I feel like, for me, I've taken note of that, and then made extra efforts to meet new people and find new people because he's given me advice… and he’s also been such a great resource for me learning about different things on campus,” Ayars said.
The mentality of students has changed drastically as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted at the UA. In-person classes are in full swing while requiring masks and following CDC guidelines. Both Kil and Ayars described a lack of energy and interest in classes while learning virtually.
This phenomena had a scientific backing. According to a study published in 2004 on students’ perceptions of the challenges of online learning underlines that a lack of community, understanding of the topics and technical difficulties prove to be the main challenges students have with online learning.
Kil and Ayars are experiencing their first large lecture halls and in person exams which Kil expected to raise anxieties about classes. She, instead, saw a peak in curiosity to learn and understand the materials which prepared her for the potentially daunting tasks. Class became a time where she could meet new people and form relationships.
One major task of moving from online to in person classes is the geography on campus. Campus tours and major-specific orientations usually prepare students for their classes, but both Kil and Ayars had their orientations online. Kil recounted that freshmen have asked her for directions but she could not give any.
Although this semester would be different from Kil's previous virtual semesters, she was hopeful.
“I feel like I'm starting new this year,” Kil said.
Freshman Jacob Ayars hoped that sophomores can leave behind the potential bitterness and sadness of a loss of freshman year and enjoy as he has on this seemingly new campus.
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