SDSU freshmen conflicted about first semester online

by Patrick Doyle, Staff Writer

First-year students at San Diego State have generally found their introductory semester to be much different than they had anticipated.

As COVID-19 cases rise and SDSU students protest the cancellation of spring break, this new generation of college students has had to adapt to the constantly changing pandemic, often leaving them disillusioned and worried about the future.

Online learning can be difficult for many to begin with, but the added struggle of attempting to figure out the “unspoken rules” of college courses on top of the many challenges virtual instruction brings has been overwhelming for some incoming freshmen.

“It was not what I expected at all,” biochemistry freshman Adrian Montes said. “I always knew college was a lot of stress but I did not know it was like this. I thought schooling would’ve been the same as if I were in person but I was wrong and it ended up being way harder for me.”

Important college skills like finding study groups, attending office hours or preparing for exams are all more difficult for students who are not around others to help them and are forced to discover these skills themselves through an online environment. The incoming freshmen of 2020 are finding it much more difficult to adapt.

“I was looking forward to mingling with people from my classes and joining student organizations in person,” criminal justice freshman Mariane Apilado said. “But all my classes are online and I have yet to visit campus even though I’m in San Diego.”

Some students, however, understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and are willing to stick with the university even in an online setting.

“Online school is a give and take,” Apilado said. “I have to cut the school some slack because it is their first time dealing with school during the pandemic.”

Others, like computer engineering freshman Jibran Akhter, even prefer this method of learning, while conceding the system isn’t perfect for everyone.

“I would say online schooling is a good alternative for short-term situations.” Akhter said. “(But) for some they may have encountered problems where they had some issues related to their technology hence leading to frustration.”

Some students are thankful for their professors who guided them through these rough circumstances and helped them better understand what college is like despite not experiencing it physically.

“All my professors have been really understanding and accommodating,” Apilado said. “So I’m very grateful for that. I wish I got to take their class in person and get to know them more because they all seemed delightful.”

However, the lack of any in-person presence has also impacted the school spirit of this new generation of Aztecs. Many feel as if they’re simply attending a random college that operates through Zoom.

“It is very difficult to find school spirit right now,” Montes said. “I feel attached to SDSU but by a little bit.”

Not having as many on-campus organizations to get involved with has also made some question why their tuition is still as high as it is.

“I would feel more like an Aztec if I was actually there,” Akhter said. “I just feel like a normal regular university student unable to access 75% of the benefits.”

Even through the hardships the SDSU class of 2024 has gone through as they were denied a proper start to their university experience, some hope still remains that the next four years will get better as the pandemic progresses.

“I feel like I’m just attending an online university at the moment, but I am optimistic that attitude will change in the future,” Apilado said. “I have hope that someday within my four years I’ll be able to study on campus.”

Hope is in fact on the horizon, as the California State University anticipates that the Fall 2021 semester will be in-person again.