Incoming freshmen: Here’s how to prep for you first college semester Wednesday, Mar 31 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

Many prospective students will be receiving their acceptance letter from the University of Louisville soon. And while the college experience during the COVID-19 pandemic might look slightly different than your high school experience. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the best out of your college experience.

 

Come prepared.

Read the syllabus before the beginning of the semester to know what your professor expects from you.

In fall 2021, U of L will offer face-to-face and 100% distance education class options. Although classes will be marked as either 100% digital or face-to-face, professors can incorporate hybrid elements to their class. Ensure that the class meets in a way that you feel comfortable.

If you plan to live on-campus, make sure your housing situation allows you to be as safe as possible while being considerate of others. Bring plenty of masks with you and sanitize surfaces in your room often. If you live with a roommate, give them plenty of space within the room. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider living at home for at least one semester.

Have a contingency plan just in case you or someone you came into contact with catches the virus. Meet with other students in your classes virtually who can help you make up assignments or give you class notes.

 

Budget your money well.

As a college student, you’re going to be faced with several choices throughout your college career. For some of us, budgeting is a bigger issue during the pandemic. 

Don’t just buy all of your textbooks before the school year starts. The best tip to avoid breaking the bank is to wait until you get through your first week of classes to start purchasing textbooks. Give yourself time so that you can determine how serious the professor is about using the assigned reading.

Along the same vein–don’t purchase your textbooks from the bookstore unless you can’t find cheaper alternatives. Take time to shop around for an online version or rental copy of your textbook. Use the book’s ISBN to search on Amazon and Chegg for cheaper versions. The ISBN is located on the back near the barcode or within the first few pages of the book, it should start with the numbers 978 and be 13 digits long.

Take advantage of student discounts. Once you have access to your U of L email account, you have access to student discounts on many platforms including Amazon Prime, Spotify and Apple Music to name just a few.

Students also get all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud products for free, as well as, free visits to the Speed Art Museum (located on campus), and free TARC fare. The TARC, or the Transit Authority of the River City, is Louisville’s public bus transport system and can get you anywhere in the city.

These discounts could end up being life savers when you need textbooks shipped or don’t feel comfortable shopping in-person. Student’s Cardinal Card and email address offer great opportunities for students to cope with stress and take their mind off of things at any point during the semester.

 

Give yourself time to breathe.

Don’t schedule classes so close together. Give yourself time to travel between classes. If your class schedule requires you to travel to the other side of campus in just 10 minutes, you might be scheduling your classes incorrectly. Keep travel time in mind and make sure you have at least 15 minutes between the end of one class to the start of another. You never know when a professor might hold you later than expected.

If you attend all of your classes online, you might want to avoid scheduling classes so close together, too. With classes so close together, you could end up with burnout from Zoom fatigue and become overwhelmed from the constant meetings. Take at least 15 minutes to yourself between online classes at minimum.

The past three semesters have been unconventional. You probably didn’t expect your college experience to be so abnormal.

The college experience is supposed to include in-person classes and learning with their fellow peers about topics that they want to potentially dedicate their lives to,” said Abby Huether, a writer for Colorado State University’s features magazine College Avenue.

“But due to COVID-19, college students this semester were forced to make a choice between either continuing their education, which might mean potentially lower-value classes, all while paying the same tuition, or taking a semester off, leaving many students floundering with no idea of what to do with their life,” Huether said.

We all need to take a breather once in a while.

 

Most important of all–keep yourself healthy.

If you plan to take face-to-face classes, remember to keep your mask over your mouth and nose at all times and stay socially distanced from others.

Destiny Smith, a sophomore nursing major, recommends that all students wear a mask, wipe down surfaces that they touch, and wash their hands after leaving every class.

Be in tune with your mental wellbeing, as well. When you start to feel overwhelmed, look for ways to cope with this stress. The university’s Counseling Center offers a helpful toolkit for students to follow with tips and resources.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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While we may never “return to normal,” we can take the first steps Wednesday, Mar 24 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

After two semesters of hybrid and remote classes, U of L is finally offering face-to-face classes and 100% virtual classes in fall 2021. This can finally be the return to normal that many students have been anticipating.

U of L announced the transition in an email sent out earlier this month on March 12 via the U of L Update service account. 

In the email, Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm said that as vaccines are coming out, the university will be able to transition most classes from virtual to face-to-face in the fall.

This is the kind of news that many students and faculty have been looking forward to since last spring.

“I was very excited to see that we’d be going back to face-to-face,” Trevin Brent, a junior SPAD major, said. “As long as it is proven to be safe I couldn’t be happier about it!”

Brent added that he plans to schedule all in-person classes for the fall semester.

Meanwhile, Livi Westbay, a junior communication major, hopes that U of L keeps hybrid classes as an option for students to choose when registering for classes.

“I’m glad classes are going back to normal but I think U of L should keep hybrid courses an option,” Westbay said.

Accordingly, she plans to enroll in only online classes for the fall semester.

For faculty and staff, these changes mean planning out another semester of classes while also needing a contingency plan in case the pandemic rolls over into the fall.

Megan Poole, assistant professor of English at U of L, aims to make decisions for the class based on what her students are most comfortable with.

“The main practice I began during pandemic teaching that I will continue into future semesters is sending out a pre-course survey to ask what students expect to get from the course, how they plan to participate, and why they have enrolled,” she said. “This feedback allows me to tweak instruction plans to best fit student needs and interests, but it also gives students a stake in how the course unfolds.”

Poole said that she hopes other professors will be mindful of the physical and mental wellbeing of students as they plan for the future.

“More fundamental than whether I agree or not with the change to F2F or 100% DE is my belief that no matter what format our classes operate under next semester, professors should enter the classroom knowing that students might struggle with yet another transition in their learning environment.” 

Traditional freshmen in the 2020-21 school year might not have gotten the “college experience” that many upperclassmen got to enjoy in the 2019-2020 academic year, including in-person RSO meetings, school sporting events, and getting to meet classmates and professors in the classroom.

In fall 2021, incoming freshmen will get the chance to experience college life a little bit closer to the way it was before.

As more individuals across campus get the vaccine, we can anticipate a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases.

We know that the virus will not be gone by the fall semester.

But we can still plan to return to a fraction of the way we once were.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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