Students return to classes to start off the new school year
BY BRAD BYRNE, STAFF WRITER
A new school year like no other has begun for students at Mason. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t let down in the United States yet, directly affecting the operation of college campuses. Student bodies must accommodate to changes in learning styles and campus operations.
There are no more huge study group sessions on the third floor of Fenwick, there’s no crowded Johnson Center, there are no more parking nightmares in Lot K and there are no more late-night runs to Southside to get ice cream.
While online classes aren’t anything new to Mason, moving all classes online in the spring of 2020 was a challenge. Students made an unplanned and somewhat unorganized transition to online learning with mixed results.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom have become the home of most classes, and discussion boards have taken the place of in-class discussions. Students have found challenges in trying to decide between taking an asynchronous or synchronous class, and whether you need to actually have on your webcam.
Due to Mason’s hybrid structure, in-person classes are limited but available for those living on campus and for classes that cannot be completed online. Sophomore Elise Velez is taking an in-person Spanish class.
“It’s been pretty good so far, everything is socially distant and they have disinfecting wipes everywhere,” she said.
“Overall, my first week was pretty good. I think the hardest adjustment is having to search for every assignment that might be due,” Velez said. “It mainly applies for my asynchronous courses, especially when professors make the due dates different than their assigned meeting times.”
It is an unprecedented year for freshmen, who had to make the decision on whether to come to campus, or to stay at home and possibly miss out on the “college experience.”
“The first week of school was an experience that I was very much unprepared for. I was extremely nervous about starting the semester on a bad foot. Although I was overwhelmed with the course work and the responsibilities of being independent, I met amazing people who helped me through the week,” said Mario Belenfanté, a freshman from California.
“While adapting to a new environment and being almost 3,000 miles away from home, I managed to pull it together and made my first week of college a memorable experience, making everlasting memories in just the first week of being on campus,” Belenfanté said. “I am excited to see what this semester brings.”