When the pandemic forced the country to shut down in early 2020, many felt sorry for the graduating high school seniors, as they were neither able to complete their K-12 education normally nor enter college. Many Augustana freshmen spent their entire senior year learning via Zoom and are adjusting to in person learning at college.
“The transition was not too difficult; it just reminds me really of junior and sophomore year,” freshman Denisa Ciobanu said. “It’s kind of difficult to talk to people again and engage with people, but other than that it kind of feels the same.”
Ciobanu graduated from Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada, where she spent her entire senior year online.
Despite being online, Ciobanu said that her high school did an okay job on preparing her for college, as she took many AP classes. However, it was still a difficult adjustment for her the first couple weeks after moving to campus.
“I was overwhelmed. I’m still so overwhelmed; it’s kind of bad,” Ciobanu said.
Though she has enjoyed being able to interact with others and meet new people, it has been very stressful for her dealing with swim practice and schoolwork, especially after having a flexible online schedule the past year.
“My mental health is kind of going down really quickly,” Ciobanu said.
Another Augustana freshman, Luis Aguilar, also admits that his mental health has declined from the stress of the in-person workload. Aguilar spent his final year at Carmen High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Zoom. Each of his six classes would meet online three days a week. Though Aguilar did take AP classes, he does not feel his school prepared him well for college.
“At this point I feel like they didn’t help me at all, because I didn’t really show up to the Zooms. I was just doing homework and stuff like that,” Aguilar said.
Similar to Ciobanu, Aguilar was also overwhelmed and confused the first week of college. The biggest adjustment of his transition was being around people after spending months in isolation.
“I didn’t usually talk on Zoom, and now here I’m supposed to be talking to everyone,” Aguilar said, “So it’s kind of hard.”
Freshman Traniya Jordan adjusted fairly well back to in-person learning, as she did not enjoy Zoom academy.
“It was not fun,” Jordan said. “Just think about being in your house for eight hours a day on Zoom, five days a week.”
Jordan went to Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kansas City, Kansas. Every day of the week, she started her Zoom classes at 8 a.m. and ended the day at 3 p.m.
Jordan feels her high school did a good job at preparing her for college before the pandemic, as she was doing ACT prep, college searches and learning how to find scholarships. However, once the school went online, it was a complete change of pace.
“It went more from, ‘oh we’re preparing you for your college search,’ to more of, ‘we’re just trying to figure out how to work this [online school],” Jordan said.
Despite the lack of preparation, Jordan does not think the adjustment from Zoom to in-person college was difficult. The first week of classes, she was still processing that she was actually a college student, but by the second week things had calmed down, and she felt much better.
Her biggest adjustment has been dealing with deadlines and assignments, as she never had to turn anything in on time while on Zoom.
“It’s a whole motivation change, but I actually like it a lot more,” Jordan said.
Another thing she’s had to work on is changing her sleep schedule. Since the teachers did not require students to turn their cameras on, Jordan and her classmates would go to class in their beds and spend most of the time asleep.
“I would log into my classes, but I would fall back asleep and wake up with that tiny screen that said, ‘The instructor has ended the course,’” Jordan said.
Jordan says she actually thinks her mental health has greatly improved. During online classes, she did not have much of a social life and was in isolation the majority of the day while on Zoom. Now, she’s a part of a community and enjoys being able to meet new people and do activities with others.