For freshmen students, the COVID-19 pandemic created an unexpected transition from high school to college life.
A majority of WSU operations moved remote for the fall semester, with students and professors working from home and video conferencing replacing in-person events.
"The experience isn't going as expected, it's a bit hard to meet people online, plus it's a bit difficult to focus with taking classes purely online," said Aawish Tahir, a freshman biology major.
WSU has implemented COVID-19 guidelines on campus, which include social distancing and wearing face masks. According to WSU’s updated student plan for the fall semester, 63% of classes are being held remote or online
"It is stressful to do work alone, sometimes the isolation gets to you,” Tahir said.
Being able to rewatch lectures and ask questions through email has made it easier to study, he said.
Colin Mata, a freshman biomedical science major, was excited to move onto campus, he said. He changed his mind once COVID-19 cases started spiking, deciding that doing so would not be safe.
"I was excited to start a new chapter, along with meeting new people and moving on to a different part of my life, and now I feel like I'm just stuck in high school for another year," Mata said.
While their first year of college might not be going as planned, events throughout their senior year of high school were also impacted by the pandemic. For many, their senior year ended virtually with prom and graduation cancelled.
“It was disappointing not to go to prom, get a proper graduation, it just felt like we as a class missed out on the opportunity,” Mata said.
Students are responsible for managing their own time around virtual classes, said Dalia Al Najar, a freshman pre-dental student. She has learned to adapt to a different style of learning and make it work around her schedule.
"At first I hated it, however, I got used to online learning and now I wouldn't mind doing it even next semester,"Al Najar said.
While the pandemic has been stressful and confusing for Tahir, he said virtual learning has some advantages. His schedule is now more flexible.
“It is what it is, we can’t change the situation, however we can try our best to take advantage of the virtual opportunities we have and make this a good year despite the situation," he said.
Lorela Grazhdani is a crontributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Picture provided by Aawish Tahir.