Experience as a transfer student to SMC, transitioning from online learning to on campus for the first time in the third year of college.
By Theo Zittel
Contributing from News
When I was first accepted into Saint Mary’s, I was beyond excited. After attending a year at my local community college, it was time for my journey to begin as a true college student, where I would be able to live on campus and away from home for the very first time. However, the second half of my freshman year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This made me anxious as my plans to move to Moraga at the end of the summer were in limbo. Along with the majority of the SMC community, I had no other choice but to remain at home for the remainder of that academic year. Come August, I was set to move onto campus, where I would be in a single room by myself due to the living situation at the time to maintain a healthy social distance between each student who lived on campus. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, classes remained online for the entirety of my first year at SMC. Therefore, I decided living on campus at the height of the pandemic was not for me.
Living at home and attending classes on Zoom full-time was definitely a challenge. Engaging with online lectures and class participation remained to be the biggest of these challenges. I just did not feel comfortable being on a laptop for hours on end, sitting in the same room at home for my entire first semester–something that most students can agree with.
However, my third year of college was one of many firsts for me. Amongst these firsts was the ability to live on campus for the very first time. I finally had the opportunity to experience dorm living. The communal living experience has certainly been interesting, especially considering I had already finished two years of college without ever leaving home. Halfway through the school year, my roommate decided to transfer to another college, which left me with a double room to myself for the entirety of Jan Term, until a new roommate was placed in my room.
The move to campus allowed me to meet other students in my classes; I no longer had to worry about the awkwardness of break-out rooms and lack of conversing with others during my year of online classes. I could make actual connections with other students, especially those who could relate to transferring to SMC during the pandemic. I also learned what it was like to live on campus during the second wave of COVID and how strict, quiet, and boring it was. Another perk was being able to catch up with acquaintances from high school and friends from my hometown who I did not talk to while taking classes from home.
Another obvious first was the access to the amenities located on campus. I could use the recreation center, eat at the dining hall, and enjoy a coffee at Café Louis, to name a few. Attending basketball games with friends was also an activity that I was not able to do since high school. On-campus living also allowed me to speak to professors 1:1, both during and outside of class, which was nearly impossible when classes were online. I no longer had to deal with quirky schedules and talking to them through my laptop screen. Lastly, writing for The Collegian most likely would not have been possible if I were not on campus. Through a reflection on my two years of attending SMC, I have to say that it has not been what I expected it to be like, whether for better or for worse.
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Ryan Ford '23,