The new semester through the lens of a first-time freshman

The new semester through the lens of a first-time freshman

As the new layout of this semester’s return to campus has been a difficult adjustment for most, first-time Freshmen students seem to have been dealt the wrong end. 

The class of 2020 remains a peculiar group of students, merely because their challenges were doubled in the time it took for Covid-19 to sweep the nation overnight. Not only were they stripped of their final few experiences as high school seniors, but this semester presents another chapter corrupted: the full college experience. 

These few personal accounts provide an insight into what it is like, starting fresh into a school year full of accommodation and great uncertainty.

Claire Berthelot, a general studies major from Assumption High School, initially stated that in choosing potential universities, she’d always been dead set on attending Nicholls. In her pursuit of a career in Radiology, the university houses all of the prerequisite courses that she needs. 

Berthelot stated the way in which her high school handled operations after the break out of Covid-19 led to a drastic break in their continuation of learning. They were provided with some assignments over the course of lockdown, but most were either not mandatory or never graded. 

“For English, we all continued with our essay, and then, eventually, we didn’t even have to turn it in,” Berthelot explained. 

Away from the curriculum, Berthelot mentioned that this drastic break also impacted the different expectations she held for her first semester at Nicholls. 

“It definitely made it harder. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t anything along the lines of ‘you have to stop everyday and get your temperature checked’ or ‘you can only use these certain exits’,” she said. 

Berthelot also noted the disappointment she experienced, learning that events such as Nicholls’ football season would be canceled. 

“I was really looking forward to the LSU vs Nicholls game!” she continued. 

As for the new layout of HyFlex courses, Berthelot stated that she was actually enjoying the process and that it was not too hard to grow accustomed. She said that she actually enjoys the freedom of not having to attend in-person everyday. 

Mackenzie Cernuska, a secondary education major with a focus in English, expressed similar gratitude towards the HyFlex method. As a mother, she stated that her home life can get pretty busy, and it’s beneficial towards her schedule to be able to multitask while at home. 

“It’s definitely a hard adjustment, but I think once I am adjusted, it’ll be alot better for me,” Cernuska stated.

Another alumni from Assumption High School, Cernuska’s education was also drastically affected by the cut off of teaching, caused by lockdown. One of the main things she stressed about before the start of Fall was writing essays. She was not able to receive the proper training from English 4 that she really needed, in preparation for composing papers in all subjects at the university.

With further elaboration on how this semester affected her hopes for her first college experience, Cernuska also mentioned her disappointment towards the cancellation of sporting events. She also stated that she had been excited about meeting new people. 

“Now everyone is just wearing a mask, and I don’t necessarily feel comfortable approaching someone that is too focused on where they’re going, who looks angry because I can’t read their facial expressions,” Cernuska explained. 

She mentioned that this is just another big thing that Covid-19 has taken away from them as Freshman, their ability to properly make new friends. 

Danyale Johnson, a pre dental biology major, also expressed her disappointment in the lack of communication between students in-person. She stated that if courses were to return to normal at some point, that would be one thing she would want to change. 

“I would like to actually be able to talk to people in my classes, get better help. Even though I’m a freshman and some of my classes aren’t necessarily Freshman courses, it’s kind of hard for me to talk to people and ask for help when I have to sit like 6 feet away from someone,” Johnson said. 

Originating from Thibodaux High School, Johnson explained that she chose Nicholls because of her sister, who attended both as an undergraduate, and again in pursuit of a master’s degree. 

She also stated that though they really could not enforce a lot of mandatory assignments during lockdown, her previous teachers were well in providing feedback and ensuring that students were on the right track for college. 

As far as adjusting to Nicholls’ HyFlex instructing method this semester, Johnson stated that she gained a lot of practice from online courses over the summer. 

“I think they did a pretty decent job at trying to help and I feel like for most of it, it did help us out. At least, for me,” Johnson commented. 

Emily Beck, a marketing major, was also able to accredit prior online training for a quicker adjustment into this semester. 

“We’d pretty much be in zoom meetings all day, with a majority of our teachers. Then, we had multiple assignments due by the end of the week for each class. If we weren’t in zoom, we had to work on that. And, for tests, teachers would watch us, and close out all of our browsers,” Beck explained. 

Coming from the small high school of Ascension Catholic, she stated that she knew Nicholls was the perfect choice for her, because it is also a small community. 

Furthermore, she said that she really enjoys everything so far, even though it’s much different.

“I’m getting used to it, so it’s not too bad,” she assured. 

Jenna Beber, a mass communications major, described Nicholls’ sorority recruitment as the reason she felt a little more confident about this semester. 

“After doing a week of zoom meetings for like hours a day, it was just way easier to do school that way. I was very familiar with Zoom by the end of the week,” she stated. 

Having chosen to attend Nicholls because both of her parents are alumnus of the university, Beber announced that she’s always had a lot of Colonel pride within her. 

A previous student at Riverside Academy in Reserve, Beber also explained that she’s always been excited to start college. Then, she grew nervous with the outbreak  of Covid-19, as she didn’t want her experience to be stolen away like the last few months of high school had been. 

Beber mentioned her grievance toward the cancellations of certain events like sports. Still, she praised Nicholl’s response to these certain changes, especially for incoming freshmen. 

“Nicholls has been doing such a great job at making sure that we feel welcomed, and that we feel like we’re able to still have those different experiences. I’m already having so much fun this year!” Beber said.