The class of 2024's unique freshman year is nearly over, and we can't wait for the coming semester.
With a return to normalcy on the horizon, freshmen are eagerly looking forward to knowing what a more conventional semester of college is like. It’s obviously no secret that the ongoing pandemic has affected life at USC, and many freshmen were prepared for the inevitable differences that would be in place.
However, with the university's formal announcement that a full return to in-person instruction will happen for the fall 2021 semester, it seems that the normal college experiences we were waiting for are back on the table.
To me, the biggest things that made my freshman year odd were the online classes and many restrictions. Online classes did not work for me, and the restrictions understandably prevented me from joining some of the clubs I wanted to join or meeting new people.
First-year biological sciences student Sadie Singh agreed and said she's excited to do things such as go out with friends.
"In-person classes will definitely be more motivating, for sure," Singh said.
Singh was far from the only person who shared my sentiment.
“I’m going to be actually able to do well in my classes because I did not do well online," first-year history student Kevin Hart said.
And the academic side of online classes weren't the only thing we had problems with. Meeting new people mattered just as much to these freshmen as it did to me.
“I look forward to meeting people in the same classes that I’m in because most of my friends are not following the same pathway that I am," first-year biological sciences student Landon Borchardt said. "I look forward to interacting with my professors and putting a face to my name."
Additionally, working together on projects, making new friends in the classroom and simply studying together were all missed.
“Study groups would be fun to help me with some of my classes because you can’t really do that right now," first-year marketing student Gabrielle Ziegler said. "It’ll be easier to meet my classmates and get help with my classes."
Even those who were lucky enough to make new friends outside of online classes shared similar feelings.
First-year aerospace engineering student Chase Robinson said although he "made a lot of friends in college," he's looking forward to "hopefully getting to know some more people."
In short, the worst part of our unique freshman year was online classes. These freshmen all shared the same view that online classes felt unmotivating and underwhelming to them.
But now, we're excited to get back into a classroom next semester, along with socializing with our peers, whether it be in study groups, sports events or club meetings.
And while it’s exciting to look ahead, it's worth reflecting on the unique first year that's nearly behind us — USC does always advertise its status as the best-ranked first-year experience in the nation.
But with the pandemic guidelines putting up many restrictions, it was interesting to find out how that reputation measured up under these circumstances.
My reaction was largely one of understanding. I knew this year would definitely be unique and that we would have to miss out on a lot of the more normal parts of college because of the pandemic.
Singh, Ziegler, Borchardt and Hart agreed, and they all said the pandemic had understandably prevented their freshman year from living up to that advertised reputation, though it was not USC's own fault.
The lack of things such as clubs, study groups and meeting in-person with professors and classmates was apparent, and our experiences suffered for it.
However, it wasn’t all disappointed reactions.
"I’m having a wonderful first year. I love it here. I love it here; it's wonderful," Robinson said. "I guess I don’t really know what it would have been like, otherwise."
While the past year was rough for most, it appears better times are finally within reach, and it's the hope of these freshmen that next semester that we'll be able to have those memorable college experiences. And we can't wait for it.