By: Crystal Cervantes, Eric Maurer, and Seth George (Loyola)
The switch to remote learning and the limited amenities on-campus for the fall semester has stripped away the “full college experience” from all students at Loyola University Chicago.
Some research indicates that remote learning is more difficult for students beginning their college education as opposed to those ending it. Although each grade is negatively affected, most people view freshmen and senior year as the most important because of the impact these years have in determining a student’s future.
Freshman year allows students to find their friend group, become independent, mature, and learn how to build a work-life balance. On the other hand, senior year allows students to network with companies, try to find post-college opportunities, and end their college experience with commencement. The question that remains is which of these two groups received the shortest end of the stick.
Some incoming freshmen believe that the transition into college is what sets them apart from seniors.
Sara Stemmler (18), a Loyola freshman from St. Louis, Missouri, believes missing out on her first year will impact her chances of making friends. “Missing freshman year is probably worse because we missed all the introduction events and we will be entering college not knowing what normal school is supposed to feel like. We’re never really going to get that initial excitement and Loyola pride,” she said.
Other freshmen made the argument that seniors have already had their chance to experience college. For most seniors, only the last three semesters of their college experience will be affected by remote learning.
Arthur Malyszko (18), a freshman at Loyola said, “Seniors have already been acquainted with the school and everything it has to offer while freshmen are left to wait to even get a glimpse of campus.”
On the other hand, some seniors believe that their life after college will also be impacted by this transition because of the lack of career resources and support available to them online.
Brendan Banuelos (21), a senior who transferred from a community college after his Junior year said, “I have lost my internship and job due to the pandemic which obviously negatively affects my resume and experience when applying to future jobs, whereas freshmen don’t really need to worry about internships/field work due to the time they have to complete it.”
For most students, their senior year is known as the most challenging. From the responses received, many argued that seniors had it worse because the advanced classes they take expect them to use knowledge they have accumulated from previous courses.
Justin Hameline (21), a senior said, “As a senior I am reaching my most difficult and intensive courses relating to my major. The full shift to online seriously takes away from direct contact learning which helps, at least me personally, with comprehending complex topics and concepts.”
There is no debate about the difficulties that COVID imposes on the school year, but many students can make valid arguments as to why they think these difficulties are worse for freshmen or seniors. The core of the argument comes down to, what is worse? Having to start or end the college experience with remote learning during a pandemic.
It is clear that every student has something to lose in this situation. However, the response to this question varies depending on what each student values most: a traditional freshmen experience or a celebration for years of hard work.
“In general, I think everyone got properly shafted by this,” said senior Ari Rand (21).