Graphic by Chelsea Wood

First-Year Students Frustrated with Their Education

HSU freshmen got the short end of the stick after facing blackouts and the COVID-19 pandemic
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HSU freshmen got the short end of the stick after facing blackouts and the COVID-19 pandemic

Humboldt State students have experienced a crazy school year. From blackouts in October and COVID-19 ending face-to-face classes, it’s been quite the ride for everyone. For freshmen, this was their first experience with college.

Freshmen learn to live on their own, make new experiences and acclimate to their new surroundings. For the freshmen that entered in fall 2019, it’s been a different story.

Mikayla Diaz, an environmental science management major from Torrance, California, struggled with scheduling her first semester during the blackouts.

“It was just really unexpected,” Diaz said. “Starting college, people will tell you how to stay organized and to keep a weekly planner and stuff like that, so everything I heard just kind of went out the window. Like, I wanted to keep a weekly planner but how do I if I don’t even know if I’m having class? It was difficult to make my way and get the bare minimum done.”

“Keeping in contact with my teachers has been helpful, but it is difficult to do the Zoom thing with my teachers. It’s kind of awkward.

Mikayla Diaz

HSU has a prominent science program, and with that comes a lot of lab classes. Megan Bach, a wildlife management major from Boulder, Colorado, admitted that the blackouts affected her lab class.

“Because of both blackouts I missed two labs,” Bach said, “which I was super bummed about because we didn’t get to do certain activities. Same with the coronavirus too though.”

COVID-19 has affected students throughout the world by pushing classes that are normally face-to-face online. Classes are conducted from home and teachers have been forced to cut assignments that can’t be done from home or without certain equipment.

Bach is concerned about the lack of hands-on learning, specifically for her chemistry lab.

“The teachers are doing a great job. I’m still getting all the information,” Bach said. “It’s just rough because it’s hard, especially from home. I hate online classes. It makes everything harder. I’m a very hands-on learner and I can’t even imagine how they’re gonna do my chemistry lab.”

Although classes are changing to accommodate online learning, students are missing out most on science classes.

“Teachers are cutting out a lot of work,” Diaz said. “Keeping in contact with my teachers has been helpful, but it is difficult to do the Zoom thing with my teachers. It’s kind of awkward. For classes—especially lab classes—I need to go to the Arcata Marsh or something and I can’t go and do that because I’m in SoCal. It’s just kind of disappointing.”

Science students feel they aren’t getting the education they paid for. Science and freshman botany professor, Mihai Tomescu, admits some of his students are struggling with the online format.

“There’s just a lot of stuff I’m missing out on.”

Mikayla Diaz

“Just recently I had a student emailing me and she was a really good student until COVID hit,” Tomescu said. “She was really involved in class, really liked the material, was there in lectures all the time, worked in the lab really hard, she really enjoyed it. She missed an assignment and I checked in with her to see how things were going and she told me that she has really big problems with the internet.”

Tomescu admits that he can’t directly do anything about the situation or to help in any way with the problems his students are facing, such as internet access.

“It’s either slow or not available or spotty. Parts of lectures will stop and she’ll have to wait for the internet to come back on and stuff like that,” Tomescu said. “That’s very worrisome, especially when you see that in a student that was doing really well in class and she was excited. I don’t want it to be a missed opportunity.”

Doing school from home can be frustrating, difficult and demotivating. At times, it’s inaccessible for people that don’t have the resources they need to complete the work. Not only are students missing opportunities on campus or in classes, but they’re also missing out on social opportunities they’ll never get back.

“It’s really frustrating because I’m not getting the material for my classes,” Diaz said. “There’s just a lot of stuff I’m missing out on.”

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