Pandemic learning disruptions could make college tougher for incoming freshman

Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 9:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s back to school for the Wildcats.

Monday was the first day of the fall semester and the University of Arizona welcomed their largest incoming class ever.

For some of students, this will be their time to be fully back in the classroom since the pandemic. Because of online learning and hybrid learning from their last years in high school, there’s some concern over learning loss for these students.

There’s a lot of excitement about being able to come to class in person, but some are worried about keeping up with the college curriculum after having so many disruptions during high school.

“My junior year was the year that COVID happened, so most of that was online, but it’s really great to meet a bunch of new people and I’m really excited that this is in-person this year,” said freshman Tyrae Wagner.

It’s the start of a new school year, and hopefully one that will look more normal after two years of the pandemic. Some of the incoming freshmen are walking onto campus after years of online or hybrid learning.

“The only concern is that I feel that we’re more disconnected because since so much of it was online, it’s like you mostly go in with your laptop and then that’s it. You’re just on the internet for most of it,” said Isabel Gutierrez.

There’s concern over more than just social interactions. How prepared are the incoming freshman for college-level learning? Some students are already taking advantage of the resources the university offers.

Doan Goolsby is one of those students.

“I’m a little bit more prepared because I did the stuff they offered over the summer to get the freshman ready and they had a lot of that stuff going on,” he said.

According to UA, some of the factors that can impact a student’s transition to college are academic and social concerns.

″Our students bring in a lot of strengths and we try to meet our students where they are. We did see during the pandemic that students were not as academically prepared, but not only that, they really hadn’t been able to make those social connections,” Christine Salvesen, associate vice provost for Student Success & Retention Innovation, said.

Math preparation has been one of the biggest challenges, but UA has more resources than ever to help incoming students to success, like summer programs to get them caught up, free tutoring, and laptop loans from the library, and Think Tank.

But sometimes new students will wait to use these resources until their junior or senior year.

Salvesen said, ″The faculty, the staff, everyone is committed to making the resources available and helping the students be successful, but I think the main thing is to have students not hesitate to ask for assistance.”