On Monday, August 23rd, classes at Millikin resumed in person for the first time since COVID-19 shut the nation down in 2020. This year, Millikin welcomed the class of 2025 to campus, the second class welcomed to campus since the initial shut down. The class of 2024, this year’s Sophomore class, was in their senior year of high school when the pandemic hit.
This means for many of them, this fall is the first time they have been in a classroom since high school.
The pandemic has had social and academic consequences for every student everywhere, whether good or bad. For the Millikin class of 2024, this meant many of them had a difficult time finding their path in college. In the fall of 2020, sophomore Alela Kinyua had all but two of her classes online.
“[I had] two classes that were in person, but one of them was a hybrid course, like we were online, it may be in person, but I didn’t like that for that class, because it just didn’t seem interactive,” Kinyua said.
Students becoming disengaged during online classes is not uncommon. Dr. Tony R. Magagna outlined the issues he had with online courses.
“…I even had a few students who didn’t even turn their camera on for presentations,” Magagna said.
Magagna understands his student’s decision to want the camera off, but it has caused additional concerns for these students.
“But the level of anxiety, I think, for being in the classroom being with people having to, you know, maybe even present, right, I’m— I’m a little concerned with that,” Magagna said.
The differences between the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025 go beyond the classroom. With the vaccine available, Millikin was able to host New Student Welcome Week. Traditionally, this event is held in person the entire week before the first day of classes. Due to COVID though, the 2020 New Student Welcome Week was hosted online the weekend before classes.
To accommodate the pandemic, many regular in-person events were canceled altogether. These events include, but are not limited to, the Involvement Fair and an annual event where students can meet the major’s department for the first time as a student.
The Millikin English Department invited the sophomores to the 2021 Department Introduction to help combat the anxieties these students may feel leading up to the first days of entirely in-person classes. For the freshmen, this event was mandatory, but the sophomores had a choice in whether or not they wanted to attend.
For students like Kinyua, this new academic year brings hope.
“You get to go out and meet more people and be more social, which can help a lot of people who didn’t have that experience with being online,” Kinyua said.
The hallways of Shilling Hall the first week of the 2021-2022 academic year seemingly exploded with this hope of the new year. Students of all grades could be seen with a MyMillikin class schedule pulled up, rushing to the first day of classes to get a good seat.
Sophomores might have experienced a slight delay in the Millikin in-person experience, but the first class of COVID high school graduates is no stranger to a challenge and will indeed find their way.