Masked students on campus

Students across the nation are returning to campus for the fall semester, according to The Washington Post. Flash forward a year later, with a year of school already completed, many BGSU second-year students are seemingly forgotten as they now adjust to university life.

With giant yard games and a commemorative 2024 t-shirt, BGSU attempted to acclimate second-years to campus with a “Second Year Social” at the beginning of the semester.

Last year, students who chose the in-person option attended class in a socially-distanced manner, with desks spaced six feet apart.

According to Ashley Courson, a second-year media production major, adjusting to this semester has been difficult — despite attending in-person last year.

“In-person classes were an attempt at normality. However, in the socially-distanced classroom, it's difficult to develop those connections with other students,” Courson said.

Another student, Claire Yanke, a second-year Spanish major, who attended BGSU’s campus for her first year, described her experience. 

“I was a complete mess freshman year. It was impossible to make friends. And it didn’t help that I was stuck in my tiny dorm room in Kreischer all day. I don’t like to think about last year at all.”

Other students opted for the remote offering of courses on Zoom. Celeste Uhl, a second-year music education major, spent the entirety of her first year on the screen.

“It’s been a really hard adjustment for me. Lots of emotional nights. The hardest part of coming to campus was not having any friends,” Uhl said.

Although a sophomore, this semester is her first on-campus. A common struggle shared between most second-years is the difficulty of making friends, since they are new to campus. Most of them feel as if they are adapting to campus, just like the freshmen this year.

Many students say they struggled to make friends on Zoom, due to the distance created by the screen. Students dislike the camera as they worry about their picture being on display to the class.

“I’m not favorable to Zoom. It’s not fun seeing yourself on the screen. I didn’t make any friends there,” Uhl added.

Some students were capable of making connections on the remote platform. Nicholas Foti, a second-year media production major, describes the social limitations of Zoom.

“I made a couple friends on Zoom. But most of it was just from assigned group work, it’s not like we initially had a choice. I’d definitely prefer to not use Zoom again.” Foti said.

According to some students, the screen created a sense of distance and disconnect. Many students found it difficult to pay attention.

Laura Drew, a third-year science education major described her distaste for the platform.

“I cannot stand Zoom. It is so difficult to pay attention. It’s frustrating because I don’t feel as if I’m receiving the quality of education I paid for.”

Drew emphasizes that if there is a chance that BGSU may have to return to distance learning, that she would take the following semester off.

“I’m worried that we might see a spike in cases at some point, who knows where we’ll be in a couple months from now. The virus is so unpredictable. If we go back to Zoom, I would probably take the next few semesters off. There’s no point. I can’t pay attention over the screen.”

However, some students enjoyed certain aspects of the remote learning experience due to its convenience. Kayleigh Travis, a junior psychology major, enjoyed her experience with Zoom.

“I love it. I don’t have to physically go to class. It's at my fingertips,” Travis said.

Travis has been on campus before and during the pandemic, and explained the changes the campus underwent.

“BGSU was full of students and opportunities to meet others. It’s great to have students back, but a lot of us are worried about catching COVID-19, so we're all mindful of keeping our distance,” Travis said.

By the 2020 fall semester, plastic shields were implemented in dining areas, masks were mandated and the six-foot rule was enforced. Although students are back to campus this year, certain social distancing guidelines remain to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Travis acknowledged the struggle second-years face. Their first year of college was in an unprecedented era, as the fear of contracting COVID-19 was real. Sophomores have the academic experience of a first year at college, but some say they have missed out on the opportunities to make connections and are just now acclimating to campus life.

“They definitely missed out on their first year. It must be difficult to form those connections right now since they didn’t get much experience last year,” Travis said.

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