Editorial: First-years deserve time to reacclimate after a year and a half of isolation

By Editorial Board

Over the past year and a half, all of us have had to learn to live with the “new normal” of Zoom classes and socially distanced classrooms. However, we upperclassmen should consider ourselves lucky. We only had to study from home for a couple of months. First-years had to for the entirety of this pandemic until now. 

The class of 2025 is in a unique position, one that has placed them at a major disadvantage. While the sophomore class missed out on their senior activities and high school graduation, most first-years were robbed of the traditional workload and in-person instruction that prepared the rest of us for college. 

On top of the lack of academic preparation, many first-year students lost important senior year social milestones — prom, if it was even allowed to happen, was a socially distanced, masked, outdoor affair. Same with graduation. 

Now, they’re dealing with the stresses of a packed academic schedule and learning to live in a new place. This really makes us wonder how first-years are adapting and how Emerson should accommodate them. 

First-years might want to turn to the college for guidance — peers, residence assistants, maybe even counseling. All of these can be helpful steps, but Emerson is going to be what you make of it. This first-year class went through the worst parts of the pandemic from home, locked in their bedrooms, and having to adjust to an at least somewhat “normal” college experience is going to be a challenge. 

To start off, the Beacon has discussed this in previous articles, but it is normal for first-year students to simply not get the experience they initially played out in their minds. But with a pandemic in the way, it seems that everyone has had a different reaction to moving into campus and adjusting to fully in-person classes once more. 

According to Grace Rogers, first-year theater education and performance major, these past three weeks have been kind of touch and go. 

On one side Rogers states that coming back to fully in-person classes has definitely been a “relief” and COVID restrictions like masks don’t really affect the experience. However, she still cannot gauge how this year is going to go for her. 

“During orientation week, everyone was super pepped and it seemed we were all desperate to make friends,” says Rogers. 

And, despite Emerson’s best efforts, orientation just isn’t a breeding ground for long-lasting friendships — those can be found in your classes, in the organizations you join, and amongst the people, you live with. Emerson is not the kind of school where you can sit back and let experiences come to you — you need to go get them, and for these first-years, who have been trapped inside for the past eighteen months, that’s going to be a learning curve. 

Rogers went on to say that even though she considers herself an introvert and because COVID has made so many of us much more anti-social, and that she has been trying to make an effort to join in on the “pep” herself. Rogers also describes this transition as hard to believe for both her and her peers. She mentions how often in conversations she realizes that many other first-years, most have a hard time believing classes will continue in person. Almost as if in a matter of a week they will be forced back home to zoom in on lectures. 

“We feel like we are in a summer camp and none of this is real,” Rogers chuckles. 

Although Grace Rogers seems to be engaging normally with in-person classes that is definitely not the case for so many other first-year students. 

Lulu Dalzell, a first-year Visual Media Arts major, who, like Rogers, identifies as more of an introvert herself has had quite a different experience. 

“I have found these past two weeks so exhausting because I am so used to the amount of time that I would spend alone that I am now I am never alone,” she said. 

Dalzell explains that although she feels that she would like to spend more time on her own, she has come to realize that being alone in college is almost worse than just taking her classes remotely. So she has taken it upon herself to go out and make as many friendships as possible.

“I am constantly with people and because we’re back fully and because restrictions are the loosest they have been….I get FOMO because I see people hanging out.”

When asked about orientation, she had the opposite reaction to Rogers in that although she agreed it was more of a peppy performance she felt that at least for the first two days it was fun enough to occupy her in just the right time. 

As we can see, it’s going to take effort to put yourself out there and learn to balance how much socializing you can take and how much you cannot. However, these are things that, as much as we would like to turn to our administration or older peers for guidance, is a personal experience that hopefully most of this year’s freshmen can get.