Underclassmen react: A year without in-person classes

Nidia Torres, Staff Reporter

Anyone’s life can inexplicably change in just a matter of seconds, minutes, hours, days or weeks. Underclassmen especially have felt the change as the beginning of their college experience changed almost over night last year. With hope in sight for a normal fall quarter, some underclassmen reflect on a year marked by isolation and social distancing.

Hunter Rhea, a freshman biology major, reflects on the year he transitioned from being a senior high schooler to a college freshman. Rhea said he was concerned about time management the most. After having spent most of his time adapting to a specific schedule, he now is used to being a “night owl.”

In Rhea’s case, that meant getting used to working on assignments late at night to turn in before the due date at midnight. Besides that, Rhea has enjoyed his time being independent and learning how to manage his time better.

At the beginning of the school year, Rhea mostly worried about online school. 

“For the first three weeks, I was getting my assignments through Outlook because I did not know what Canvas was,” Rhea said. 

This lasted about three weeks before he got used to being online and using Canvas. With that taken care of, Rhea hopes to accomplish good grades and get to meet new people. Given the social restrictions, Rhea’s social life is limited to only online or distanced interactions. 

Throughout the pandemic, Rhea managed to get used to this new way of living. 

“Adapting is something I’m really good at,”Rhea said. “Due to these restrictions, I found it easier to put myself out there. I found it easier to make friends.”

Although Rhea managed to adapt to these new circumstances, there were some aspects that were still affected because of this pandemic. Not being able to better interact with others and hang out with friends affected Rhea’s social life. However, upon reflection, he still remains positive. 

“What I’ve learned is the best is yet to come. It’s like you’re given the lucky end of the stick in this current situation,” Rhea said. 

Sophomore aviation major Brett Boyd agrees that freshmen have had a disadvantage because of this pandemic. 

“They haven’t gotten the chance to really get out there, meet all their peers, go to in-person classes, have face-to-face time with their professors,” Boyd said. “I hope they will get to experience that, but you know it’s tough that they missed out on their first year of college because it’s a really important time for a lot of people.”

Boyd reflected on how the beginning of the school year went for him. 

“My two biggest thoughts were one, I really wanted there to be some form of hybrid or in-person classes just because I really thrive off an academic environment,” Boyd said. “Second, I was concerned about the flight program, if anything was going to get halted or shut down due to the coronavirus, which luckily it hasn’t yet.”

Boyd said in his experience as a sophomore during this school year and amidst this pandemic, he’s learned to have a “keener” time management since all his classes are online. Because of this, Boyd said he takes it upon himself to take breaks and do activities outside of school for a healthier lifestyle. 

“I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to finish up and get my instrument rating on time, which is usually the license we all go for in our second year,” Boyd said.

Both Boyd and Rhea have similar goals and accomplishments. They both said they hope to maintain good grades and continue to remain positive amidst these circumstances. Their goals and accomplishments have kept them going and remaining positive. 

Academic Advisor Mayra Nambo has helped over 100 freshmen and sophomore students. She’s helped freshmen especially have a smoother transition from high school to college in orientation.

“During orientation I always try my best to meet students and parents, so they know who I am and I am here to help. I was a 1st generation college student, and I had no idea what I was doing at CWU when I started, but I had great advisors who I knew I could ask questions to,” Nambo said. “So, I make it my mission to be that person for students, especially those students who, like me, are the first to go to college and their first language is not English.”

Under these conditions, Nambo shares the challenges of having to advise students. However, she still encourages students to prioritize themselves first. 

These times are super challenging, something I would advise a student is that their mental health is very important during this pandemic; take things slow and practice self-care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and clarification when in doubt,” Nambo said.

According to PositivePsychology.com, setting goals for oneself helps increase and further develop the need for motivation. Amidst these times, a little motivation surely can’t hurt. Furthermore, this article states that goals are important to boost ones accomplishment skills and commitment levels. 

Goals help with creating strategies that better help in accomplishing goals and also cultivating skills that help with “self-efficacy” and “self-confidence.”

“I’m hoping that we’re going to have a lot more in-person classes you know. We’ll have a lot more vaccines distributed around the United States,” Boyd said. “Hopefully, we can start getting back to as close to normal as we can [and] start having just really a more normal college experience next year and I’m excited and hopeful for it.”