Shift from highschool to college: As unprecedented as the pandemic

Source: Annahar
Christy-Belle Geha and Elissa Hassan
A college student attends an online course using Zoom. (AP Photo)
A college student attends an online course using Zoom. (AP Photo)
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BEIRUT: First-year university students are the first generation of undergraduates to attend the majority of their classes, meet new colleagues, and adapt to a new system, in a home classroom, kilometers away from campus. 

As this year’s shift from highschool to college is mostly happening at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Annahar wanted to hear more from the first students ever to experience a nontraditional welcoming into college life. 
“I would’ve loved to walk around campus and sit in a normal classroom,” expressed 18-year-old Kareem, who has started his first semester in applied physics at the Lebanese American University (LAU), earlier this month.

“I do think that remote learning made it less exciting to experience college life, because I was most excited to meet new people, hang out, and go out for lunch with them.”

Kareem also told Annahar that attending all classes virtually is a double-edged sword since he hates not being able to meet his classmates and professors in person on one hand, but enjoys relying on pre-recorded lectures that make studying easier and better, on the other hand.

Mona Samih Safieh has enrolled this year at the Lebanese International University (LIU)’s Accounting Information System program, and has been feeling that moving from high school to college in a non traditional way is less exciting, in light of multiple stressful educational, social, emotional, and health challenges.
“Till this moment, we don't know how effective and efficient it will be to study under these serious conditions, especially that receiving the information needed to graduate successfully may be hindered,” noted Safieh. 

Caren Kandil, a chemistry pre-medical student at LAU, is also concerned about the effectiveness of remote learning, especially that she finds some lessons hard to understand while she has no other choice but to adapt to the current means of teaching. 

However, Kandil confirmed to Annahar that online studying triggered her sense of independence as she’s now framed in a spatio-temporal space to finish some chapters on time, which let her study daily and fastly.

“It's safer to study online in these circumstances, but attending university - at least once per week - [sounds good], just to change [our studying] environment and socialize with new people, to keep the process easier,” she suggested.

Meanwhile, first-year pharmacy student Sarah Ayache is attending most of her classes on campus - sanitary precautions taken -  upon the request of her university, the Beirut Arab University (BAU), while the rest is taught remotely.

“Starting university is already stressful enough because I'm being subjected to a whole new atmosphere, so under the [country’s] current circumstances, it's 10 times more stressful,” explained Ayache.

Business Major at LAU Omar Shaker feels the upcoming semester’s way of learning is unfair to most of the students.


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