features

A Homesick-less Semester for First-Year Students

Caroline Wallace ‘23

Staff Writer 

Traditionally during the first week of September, first-year students make their way up Mount St. James in a car filled to the brim with their belongings. As they enter the gates to Holy Cross, they are welcomed by faculty members, alumni, and current students who help move them into their new home. However, this fall Easy Street seems all too quiet as students remain home for remote learning. I had the opportunity to discuss the first few weeks of online learning from the perspective of two first-year students: Jordyn Brown and Sara Terrien.

​In accordance with an unconventional first semester, fall orientation also took place through a new format for the class of 2024. Sara Terrien described her experience with the online fall orientation as “spending a couple hours a week watching videos.” While orientation typically serves as an opportunity for new students to mingle amongst their peers, Terrien included the fact that the videos did not grant students the opportunity to interact with anyone else in the class of 2024. Lack of student interaction left Jordyn Brown feeling that “more student perspective was needed.”

While large efforts have been made by the college to make remote learning feel as normal as possible, there are just some aspects of life at Holy Cross that cannot be fulfilled virtually. The social life on campus is one of these things. Jordyn Brown is especially appreciative of social media that has helped her “immensely” with getting to know her classmates. Still, both Terrien and Brown are eager to meet their peers in an in-person setting.

​From an academic standpoint, the first year of college is challenging for any Holy Cross student. In addition to adjusting to the academic rigor of Holy Cross, first-years must also—simultaneously—adjust to an online format for school days. Both Terrien and Brown shared that online learning leaves them feeling “fatigued” or experiencing “headaches during classes” as a result of staring at a computer screen for such a long period of time. Terrien also included the fact that being remote has made it “harder to connect with professors.” This lack of in-person interaction with professors is especially challenging to first-years who, arguably, require the most support from professors.

​After hearing about the struggles of remote learning from the perspective of two first-year students, I was left feeling very sympathetic towards the difficulties these students face as they begin their first few weeks at college. My hope for the class of 2024 is that, despite the circumstances, they will make the most of their first semester at college. Furthermore, I hope that they still feel the support from their new Holy Cross family—even from home.

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