Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students study in Olin Library on Feb. 1, as Cornellians prepare for the first round of prelims.

February 16, 2022

After Two Weeks Online, Students Say Prelim Season Has Arrived Abruptly

Print More

Prelim season is underway as students complete their fourth week of school, the second held in-person since the two-week virtual period. The University held the semester’s first classes virtually to scatter arrival times and give students who tested positive for COVID-19 the opportunity to quarantine without missing class.

To many, beginning classes online for two weeks had a negative effect on studying habits, and it has brought ongoing concerns from about the difficulties of online learning to the forefront.

“I wasn’t mentally present for any of the first two weeks. I was on the Zoom, but I wasn’t really there,” said Georgina Garcia ’24.

Other students voiced similar concerns that transitioning back to in-person classes has caused varying degrees of disorientation and unpreparedness. 

“Since classes only started being in person last week, it only feels like the second week of school. It feels like those two weeks of online classes almost didn’t exist,” said Salma Hazimeh ’24. “Now that everything’s in person, things are catching up to me.”  

The students reported that prelim season feels especially early this year, given a relatively shorter period of in-person instruction in which students would normally refamiliarize themselves with campus living and learn course material.

Danielle Smith ’24 described her frustrations with the semester structure and the lack of transition back into in-person learning. 

“It feels like there’s not much material that we would even test on, and that material that we would test on, I didn’t really take in much of it,” Smith said. 

Online learning also differs from in-person learning in how tests are administered and how students prepare. 

“I had never taken prelims in my first semester. This will be the first time I’m taking prelims, so I don’t know how it works,” said Teresa Chen, grad, a student in the Master of Professional Studies program in information sciences. “It’s very hard for me to transfer my study methods from online to in-person.”

For students who felt less able to learn and focus over Zoom, the transition to prelims only a few weeks after returning to campus has been especially stressful, and it has generated widespread calls to change prelim schedules. 

“The first two weeks were online, so I barely learned anything during those two weeks,” said Linda Mahecha Rios ’24. “Putting off prelims at least another week [would be a good solution], because that was insane. I feel like I just started school and it’s like, ‘test.’ I’m not even caught up.” 

Aimee Eicher ’24 contributed reporting.