Nursing freshman Maryglyn Yamba has never had a full semester of in-person college classes. Her experience has been defined by isolation and online schooling, and next semester will be the first time she has mostly in-person classes.
“It has taken a toll on my mental health, but I feel like that’s how it is, how it has been for everybody,” she said.
Last semester marked the largest freshman class in UTA history, with almost 4,000 enrolled.
The majority of these freshmen have never known college without COVID-19 restrictions, online classes and solitude.
Biology freshman Alexandra Goldman hasn’t been able to meet anyone in her classes or major, so the prospect of getting to meet new people next year is exciting, she said.
Goldman said everything feels unfinished, especially when she thinks about the end of her senior year of high school. That feeling has crossed over into college.
“It’s kind of hard to find where high school ended and college began,” she said.
Yamba knew people would be cautious about COVID-19, but she wasn’t expecting the campus to be fully shut down. She’s enthusiastic about in-person classes next semester.
“I am excited because that’s kinda going to be the start-up, when everything’s going to be transitioning back into like normal,” she said.
This year was different from what nursing freshman Ashley Hagenbuch was expecting and has been more online than in-person. She hasn’t gotten the typical freshman experience, she said.
Hagenbuch said it’s been hard to stay focused and motivated since the majority of her classes are asynchronous. She feels like it would be easier to stay connected in synchronous and in-person classes.
“I have an asynchronous course that I completely forgot that I had until like two weeks ago,” she said.
However, for Korean freshman Heidy Velez, going to school and having to meet professors face-to-face is nerve-racking, she said. She will have to learn to drive next semester to get to school.
After having online classes for the whole year, the process of adjusting to in-person classes makes Yamba worried, she said.
Nursing freshman Rebecca Jackson is more worried about a surge in COVID-19 cases after students return to campus.
Despite getting vaccinated, Velez is still scared about going on campus.
“My mom’s high-risk, so I’m scared,” she said. “I got my shots and everything, but that’s scary. What if I bring the virus with me?”