Zoomin’ to class

Freshmen unpack the struggles, reality of online classes

Hailey Echan, Features Editor

The excitement of starting college was slightly diminished by the news that most classes at Seattle Pacific University would be online for autumn quarter 2020.

Freshmen moving onto campus this quarter are navigating the ups and downs of online courses and everything that entails.

For some, the online shift has not affected their abilities to learn and engage, whereas for others, it has diminished the quality of relational experiences on campus.

Taking the more positive perspective, freshman computer science major Ben Lucas is simply happy to be here.

Tianna Flores and her roommate Maille Duque enjoy a meal outside, utilizing one of the tables available for outdoor dining. (Marissa Lordahl)

“I try not to put in on the spectrum of being negative because I’m grateful to be on my own and taking responsibility for myself and I see my classes as a job that I enjoy,” Lucas said.

The adjustment from in-person high school classes to online university courses seems to be smooth sailing for Lucas. 

“I haven’t had any struggles towards online class, for the most part everything has been very straight forward.”

For freshman political science major Faith Gutierrez, the expectations coming into her first year of college had to shift, but she is still trying to roll with the punches. 

“Before the pandemic, I expected college to be very social. Getting to go to classes in person–I never thought that would be a thing I wouldn’t get to do,” Gutierrez said. “It is disappointing in that way but at the same time there’s not really anything you can do about it.”

Struggles that come with online courses have already begun to emerge.

“Time management and managing my workload is the hardest thing for me right now,” Gutierrez said. 

Adding to that, with the majority of classes being conducted online, the personal connection for students becomes lost in translation through the screen. 

“It’s hard to connect to students just through Zoom,” Gutierrez said. 

Gutierrez is not the only student experiencing difficulties with classes only being held over Zoom. 

Another problematic factor with online courses, as pointed out by freshman clinical counseling psychology major Tianna Flores, is the lack of balance between academic success and mental and physical health. 

“Right now with online classes, trying to balance my health and academic efforts, it feels very lonely and draining while it is only the first week,” Flores said. 

Flores typically prioritizes academic success, but she is realizing how the people in her life, or lack thereof, can greatly influence her mental health on a day to day basis. Life outside of school looks different and more difficult as it becomes harder to connect with people. 

Especially as a freshman, not knowing anyone on a campus of thousands of students can be intimidating.

“Even though I have a roommate, it’s hard for both me and her to be able to maintain a standard of academic achievements, and still balance our life outside of school, with all the restraints of how we meet people, in person or virtually,” Flores said. 

The positives that come with online courses for Flores still end up becoming negatives in the long run.

Tianna Flores and Maille Duque explore the options at the C store near Martin Square, the main spot on campus for grab and go snacks. (Marissa Lordahl)

“The positive is that I don’t need to worry about leaving the comfort of my own dorm, but that exact statement is the problem,” Flores said. “It’s hard for me to deal with online school at home because my motivation levels tend to drop when I am slammed with work, and I have to do it all online.”

The inability to interact with students within a classroom and the ability to wake up at 7:59am and be at class by 8am may have created an environment where self-motivation has begun to decrease. 

The gratefulness for the ability to still learn in the midst of a pandemic is not being forgotten, it is rather being overshadowed by the disappointment that comes along with not getting to connect to fellow classmates in a way that is safe and effective. 

Online classes may offer up an amount of both positives and negatives, but the fact remains true that classes shifting to online has shifted the mindsets of many freshmen, whether good or bad. 

“While I say I am a hardworking student, it’s still hard trying to keep the same effort with online classes,” Flores said.