UD first-years react to return to in-person instruction

Lucinda Judd
Contributing Writer

As the class of 2020 transitioned to the college class of 2024, turmoil and confusion greatly impacted this important experience for many of us. Speaking as someone that was a senior in high school this past year, nothing went as planned, but there was always the hope of a normal first semester of college. 

However, with the first few weeks of the semester becoming completely remote, it felt like the possibilities were slipping away. Many students expressed understanding of the decision, but frustration, nonetheless. 

“Given the way the country and the community as a whole is reacting to COVID it makes a lot of sense that they wanted to slow the spread,” says Mary Kate Horlander, a first year student at UD, in reference to the decision to move online.

With a spike in cases and a quick elevation of the campus status, some students returned home for two weeks instead of dealing with two weeks of essentially dorm-lockdown. Now, the campus level has been lowered to Level 2 Localized and students and most classes have returned to in-person instruction, but the level of excitement differs depending on who you ask.

First year student Michael Stauble says, “I think it’s going to be awesome.” Whereas other first years voiced more toned-down reactions to the shift back to in-person. 

“Honestly, I feel like I should be more excited because everyone else is so excited. But I just sort of feel like, oh, it’s school!” Horlander says. 

Accompanied by the return to in-person classes is the return of in-person professors. Something stressed to incoming students and high school seniors was the idea of developing relationships with professors during office hours or during class interactions. With a lack of actual in-person office hours and less time seeing professors, those interactions were limited and at worst, just never developed.

“I don’t know them, and I still don’t know my professors,” says Stauble when asked how he feels about his relationship with professors this semester. 

Horlander expressed that in high school she was able to get to know her teachers well and felt like that was missing this semester. “I was able to see my high school professors before and after class, and have that in-class sort of banter, but we really lost that.” 

However, now that she’s back in person she’s still unsure if those relationships will improve, “There’s limited times I see them so I’m not entirely sure.”

Despite the move back to in-person classes there are still worries that it is too late in the semester to have a “normal” college experience. Will first-years be able to make meaningful connections with professors and experience a “normal” feeling class, or has COVID taken away those opportunities as well?

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