Many students were excited when they heard that classes in fall 2021 were going to be in person. No more Zoom lectures and breakout rooms, just lecture halls and classrooms.
We’ve had a year of just having to roll out of bed and get on Zoom, but now we’re going to be expected to get up early, get ready and go to class. In-person classes require more effort — physically and mentally — than online classes do, so we need to be prepared. Take the time to figure out how you’re going to be ready in every way possible, and don’t feel bad if it takes a while to adjust to everything.
Students that experienced in-person classes before the COVID-19 pandemic will need some time to transition back to their old routines. With prior experience of how in-person classes are in college, upperclassmen have an advantage over the current freshmen.
“Even if we did have normal in-person classes this year, it's always difficult for the freshmen because they have to figure out how long it takes to walk from one building to another but now they’re going to have to be doing that their sophomore year,” junior Hannah Drilling said.
The freshmen this year have not experienced fully in-person classes yet in college, so they won’t know how to prepare. Many of them don’t even know their way around campus because they haven’t had to walk around to find out where their classes are. Next year, there will be two classes that are going to be lost while trying to navigate the campus.
“I’m going at it blind because no one has really prepared me for in-person classes in college,” freshman Ivy Clarke said. “I’ll probably just look at the syllabus for every class and a map to see where all of my classes will be.”
Students who had classes in person before the pandemic have the advantage of generally knowing what to expect. But even they won’t know what to expect from professors when classes resume in the fall.
“Some professors haven’t been as forgiving with this process, and I feel like they’ll be like ‘you’ve had a year off,’ so they’re not going to ease us back into it,” Drilling said.
Many professors changed the format of their exams this year to fit with online classes. Some gave students a few days to take an exam so they could take it when it was most convenient for them, and others made their exams open-note. Next year, exams will go back to being in person as well.
“I'm concerned about exams and homework because I have no experience with in-person exams,” Clarke said. “All of my exams have been open-note and I can take them whenever I want during a specific time frame.”
Students should start thinking now about adjustments they’re going to have to make next semester. Simple things like figuring out which buses will take you to where you need to go, how early you need to get up to make it to class on time and even how to have a better attitude.
“Personally I’m trying to take every day with a more positive attitude than I did before COVID because I feel like time is very precious and we’ve lost so much of it during COVID,” Drilling said. “You’ll have sad days sometimes, but I’m trying really hard to get over trivial things that upset me because time here at IU is short and you don’t want to waste it being negative.”
Even though next semester will be challenging, there are also other things to look forward to. Classes going back in person means that students can meet new people and make new friends, something that was not easy to do in a pandemic. Everyone missed out on a year of fun, in-person events around campus and opportunities to get involved.
“I'm honestly really excited to see new people and meet new people,” Clarke said. “I haven't been able to see people and go to events yet so I’m excited to do that next year.”
When next semester starts, don’t feel badly if you’re struggling to adjust because all of us are going to be in the same boat. Don’t be scared to ask someone where a building is, and if you see someone struggling ask them if they need help. We’re all in this together.
Olivia Franklin (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in political science. She is currently a member of the swim club at IU.