By Suzannah Young
Being a freshman is tough. You are starting over in a new place and are probably the youngest at your school. Now, Barry students are facing a new dilemma: being a freshman... twice.
Due to the quarantined 2020-21 academic year, many students in the class of 2024 were unable to tend classes in person, making Fall 2021 their first in-person college semester. At the same time, Barry is welcoming the class of 2025 to its campus for the first time.
Only some students in the class of 2024 decided to live on campus during the pandemic year - albeit a socially distant version of campus life - while others chose to stay at home and navigate the collegiate world online.
Winkler Michael, a psychology sophomore, was one who chose to live on campus in the freshmen dorms during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Although he did experience some disadvantages having his first year online, Michael said that being on campus helped him be more productive.
“Being [on campus] made it easier for me to be successful because of the accessibility to certain resources on campus such as the library,” Michael said.
Despite access to these on-campus commodities, Winkler felt the lack of social interaction helped him to focus and keep up academically.
“The goal was [to focus] strictly [on] academics and to get things done in a timely manner without any distractions,” said Michael. “I wasn’t going out of my way to make friends or anything like that.”
Michael claimed that the virtual environment allowed him to participate more comfortably in class, which has positively influenced his relationships with “Not being able to be his peers on campus who now recognize him from their classes last year.
However, others such as freshman Dalia Diaz majoring in professional writing, experienced challenges after already spending her senior year of high school in a virtual environment.
“The hardest adjustment coming from online to in-person was the fact that our level of motivation decreased over quarantine and our social skills, in a way,” said Diaz.
Diaz admitted that her senior year left her ill-prepared to adjust to life in the college classroom.
“I didn’t really study how I used to because it was so easy, and I wasn’t able to retain the material as well [in online school],” she said.
Diaz was not the only one who felt an impact from the year online.
Luke Russ, a sophomore majoring in communications, opted to take Barry classes virtually from his home in Philadelphia last year.
Despite the financial advantages to living at home, Russ said he regrets not being able to have face-to-face interactions during his first year at Barry.
"Not being able to be in person for school was disappointing because I did not get to have that connection with classmates," Russ said. “I missed getting to be involved with the school community and being a part of clubs and organizations and other things like that.”
Others such as Adriana Lamothe, a sophomore majoring in business, did not live on campus but had the opportunity to be here much of the time due to her role on the tennis team and proximity to the school.
A native Miamian, Lamothe admits that the first semester of her freshman year was difficult but being a part of the tennis team made the transition much smoother.
“I was able to meet a lot of people through [my teammates] and my coach,” Lamothe said. “I could ask anyone, and they were always willing to help until I was able to find my way.”
Now, Lamothe resides on campus and is a full-time student athlete. She admits that adjusting to her much busier schedule of in-person learning and rigorous practice schedule has been somewhat of a challenge.
“I have to be more productive and manage my time more efficiently,” Lamothe said.
Like Michael, Lamothe has also struggled in her adjustment to the in-person collegiate environment but remains hopeful as she sees the benefits of engaging in a more populated space outside the virtual world.
“I am forcing myself to pay attention and be more proactive in class because while I am a very social person, I tend to be more shy in the classroom,” Lamothe said. “I feel like that is something to work on, and it is much easier to do in person than on a computer screen.”
For Lamothe, she believes that the two semesters she had at Barry gave her the full freshman experience.
“Being on campus often and being able to partake in classes and sports helped me develop my social circle,” she said. “So, yes, I do feel like a sophomore this year.”