Photo by Southern Oregon University
No one would have foreseen the tragic situation that millions have been subjected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The global shutdown has led students to online learning, a comfort for those who were already adjusted to their college life, but a struggle to those who are just entering college for the first time or are transferring to a new school.
Southern Oregon University hosted a virtual Week of Welcome (WOW) on the application Whova during the first week of school to help incoming students feel supported and offer resources to help them get through this tough time. One of the benefits this had for students was that the access to a chat room with the opportunity for students to create their own topics where other users could talk and connect.
One freshman, who wished to remain anonymous, shared their excitement in starting their college adventure, but the reality of everything being remote brought up some feelings of concern. “I’m feeling great about college! I’m missing the classroom a bit, but the professors are great at making the classes fun. I’m very glad the school put together all the events because I gained more friends than I normally would!” They expressed how they’d love to see more virtual events hosted by the school, but on different platforms aside from the Whova app.
Eliza Haley, a freshman, expressed how she felt stressed due to the pandemic, the recent fires and that she would require sometime to adapt to the online classes since she was not accustomed to learning at home. Haley continued, “I still need to get used to [the] style of teaching from each professor, but making friends has been easier. Without the app, it would have definitely been harder to make friends since everything is more isolated.” Even with the app, she still wished that students could talk in person more easily.
The Siskiyou spoke with one of SOU’s transfer students who shared that they didn’t feel that impacted by the online classes, but rather that some of the classes were a bit rocky because the “…teacher was crossing over to a new territory with having to deal with their first online curriculum and not being accustomed to this different style of teaching.” As for making new friends, the student felt that WOW was a great opportunity to meet other new students. Although, they noticed how the virtual event was lacking for long term events, and wished to see a more robust school chat environment to help build a network of peers.
All three students shared how classes were not as much of a concern as making friends and finding ways to chat with other students. This leaves the school with a lot of room to make its next virtual event better than before, and to work on chat rooms were students could partake in various conversations around their interests. This task will take some time, and a lot of brainstorming, but luckily most new students do not feel alone despite having to experience their college life remotely and virtually.