Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

On Jan. 24, students participated in classes via Zoom – last year many classes were online for the entire semester.

January 25, 2022

First-Year Students Experience First Virtual Start to a Semester at Cornell

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For many Cornellians, online learning is nothing new, with the University having moved all courses online in March 2020 and only returning to a fully in-person format for the fall 2021 semester. However, over the first two weeks of the spring 2022 semester, most members of the Class of 2025 will be experiencing their first virtual college courses. 

Concerns about a surge in the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant led some universities to switch to remote learning and others to delay openings. On Jan. 6, Cornell followed suit and announced that it would shift to fully virtual instruction for the first two weeks of the spring 2022 semester.

This change came after the University moved finals online at the end of the fall 2021 semester and declared a code red alert as COVID-19 cases surged among the student population. 

Zoom classes, however, are not completely unfamiliar to members of the Class of 2025. Chad Rubin ’25 was virtual during the entirety of his senior year in high school. He returned to Ithaca to see his friends, and he stated that he is excited to return to in-person learning after this two-week period.

“It’s harder to connect with people because you’re meeting them virtually, and Cornell really hits the ground running with these classes,” Rubin said. 

Although all students were given an extended move-in period, some first year students decided to take their Zoom classes on campus in their dorm rooms. 

Carlin Reyen ’25 returned to Ithaca this past weekend and said that she is more focused at school than at home. She also returned to connect with college friends and create a crucial separation between home and school. 

“I wanted to come back so I could work hard and study and leave being at home for breaks,” Reyen said.

First years, both on campus and at home, expressed mixed feelings about the effectiveness of online classes. Many, including David Lilienfeld ’25, find it easier to learn with in-person instruction than Zoom options. 

”The act of getting out of bed, getting food, going to classes and then being done with the day is a much better routine,” Lilienfeld said. 

Despite the circumstances, Reyen enjoyed her first day of online classes.

“I was really excited because I finally found classes that I’m really interested in. But even so, it’s so hard for me to stay on a Zoom for over an hour and really stay focused,” Reyen said. “So I really miss being in-person and hopefully we will be able to go back soon.”