Half Way There: Freshman and Transfers Join BC Amid Pandemic

Freshmen and transfer students deal with a digital college experience./ Dreamstime

Written By: Olivia McCaa 

Freshmen and transfer students deal with a digital college experience./ Dreamstime

“It’s like there’s this online barrier that is just impossible to get rid of,” said Brooklyn College freshman Frances Porter.

   For Brooklyn College freshman and transfer students this semester, their initial impressions and experience in a college setting has been mostly online.

   “It’s like feeling alone even in a Zoom class full of people. It’s very isolating, especially for freshmen,” Michele Sherman, a freshman English major, told the Vanguard. “Making things like group chats have helped a little bit, but it’s still not the classroom environment I was used to and hoped to have my first year in school.”

   Problems such as isolation, lack of motivation, and mental health have all had a heavy impact on college students, especially newer members to the community. For freshmen, many still have yet to visit or interact on campus. 

   “I’ve been on campus more as a senior in high school than as a freshman,” Sherman said. 

    Additionally, isolating conditions and remote learning issues have led to new students facing performance issues. 

   When classes stopped meeting in person, Gabriela Marcucci, a transfer, moved back home and continued her education online, only to notice how alone and isolated she was left feeling. “COVID has made me very scatterbrained, honestly,” Marcucci said. 

   As freshmen continue completing pathways and prerequisites, a lack of engagement and communication also appear to be a common issue. 

   “It’s hard for me to have the option of being able to show up to a class but not necessarily be able or feel the need to pay attention and I kind of just let myself fall behind,” said Porter. “It definitely is more difficult for me to be online because most of my classes are entry level where we really just have busy work to deal with.” 

   Lack of involvement remains a common theme around students in entry level classes. Freshman Rimsha Marium doesn’t see online classes as a true engaging learning environment that is sustainable.

   “I think there is a lack of motivation because we aren’t really learning anything online. It’s primarily just submitting our work before the deadline.”

   “The biggest issue I have right now with Brooklyn is that everything is coming in on multiple sources online,” she said. Different learning platforms such as Schoology, Blackboard, Cunyfirst, and email all contribute to the overwhelming feelings surrounding keeping up on schoolwork.

   However, even though it is frustrating for students to not attend school in person, “it’s responsible to remain online,” Frances Porter said.

   As the fall semester came to a close and Brooklyn College entered its spring semester online, more students found themselves becoming comfortable with, and adjusting to, being online.

   “A lot of the initial awkwardness is over,” Sherman pointed out. 

   For faculty, students, and administration, there has been a tremendous learning curve. Teachers likely never hosted an entire curriculum online, because their classes were meant to be in person. Students were similarly unaware of how to adjust and adapt to a completely foreign learning environment. 

   “After moving to New York my second semester, I have had much more of a wake up call and I realized why I am here,” Porter said. Coming from North Carolina, Porter, like many other students, was faced with distractions. “Now I am faced with my future and I have to be better at working on it especially in school.”

   As freshman and transfer students continue on with either their second or third semester online, hostility towards the format has settled.. Some, like George Marsoas, a senior studying part of his first semester at Brooklyn College, found himself truly enjoying the academic presence he and his peers had online. 

   “Just the way the environment and the professor conducts itself is very cool and intellectually stimulating,” he said. “I am an aspiring theologian and my class in Brooklyn even if it is online, is great for this.”

   Students are becoming more aware that during this pandemic and continuation of online learning, time management and self determination are very important factors to remain motivated. 

   “I can’t just pretend classes aren’t real,” Marium said. Learning how to prioritize her work and understand that her classes need to be taken seriously has been a large adjustment for students like her. 

   With the support of teachers and hopes of the vaccine roll out for COVID-19, students are excited to hear when they will be able to begin their on campus experience in a safe and manageable way.

   “I don’t feel like I am part of the community, and once we are back in person I am excited to get more involved in the community and I hope to join clubs next semester,” Marcucci said.


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