Opinion: The class of 2024 must be included in this fall's welcome events

As we return to in-person classes this fall, current freshmen need to be given opportunities they missed out on because of the pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, as an incoming freshman, I thought I would get a few weeks off of school, have a nice break and then go right back to finish the year off. Some of us were excited to do online classes and assumed that if we quarantined at the beginning, we would get to be in-person in the fall. Few of us expected to still be doing online classes over a year later.

Although the pandemic has affected people of all ages, it really altered the college experience for the class of 2024. Entering ASU, many students in my class had only a virtual orientation and a short window of time to move in, not allowing for much of an opportunity to actually explore the campus. 

When we came to campus, COVID cases were raging across the state and the University. A large number of 2020 incoming freshman at ASU decided to attend their classes from home for the first semester or entire year since classes were mostly online and cases were rising.

Alongside ASU’s recent announcement that in Fall 2021 we will return to Learning Mode 1, in which instruction will be delivered to students in person, accommodations need to be made for the class of 2024. 

As an acknowledgement of the losses students in the class of 2024 faced this year in friendships, traditional college experiences and chances to grow into their new community, they need to be included in the events held for this fall's incoming freshmen. 

Because of the pandemic, we didn't get to participate in normally annual in-person events like orientation, tours and welcome week. There's no reason we should miss out on that completely because of bad timing; there's still a chance for us to have some of the essential college experiences we missed this year if the University makes it a priority.

Maya Mukherjee, a freshman studying marketing and digital communications, chose not to come to ASU in the fall, like many other students, due to safety concerns.

“My family and I went back and forth over the summer, deciding if I would come to school at the start of the term," Mukherjee said. "As cases progressively got worse, we made the decision to stay home."

Mukherjee didn’t get the traditional college experience and because of COVID-19, she entered the ASU campus at the start of the second semester feeling very isolated.

“I did the online orientation last summer, but since I didn’t actually come to campus first semester, it was very hard to adjust because everyone had their small friend groups and it was hard to meet anyone with everything online,” she said.

The freshman class had to sacrifice a lot to come on campus and was at a disadvantage. Unlike upperclassmen who already knew their way around campus and had friends, the class of 2024 had to come to campus last August unprepared.

“I feel like I still don’t know a lot about campus," Mukherjee said. "I was lost out of my mind the first couple of weeks because I never toured campus before I came. I had no idea what the business school even looked like, because there aren’t any in-person classes."

I am ecstatic to return to in-person classes, but I am also very nervous about it because I still don’t know my way around campus and have only experienced college online. COVID-19 ruined a lot of things for the class of 2024 and continues to upset other classes, but we can’t let that ruin our college experience.

If ASU gives the option for students in the class of 2024 to attend the events that oftentimes build a foundation for students' entire college experiences along with the class of 2025, both groups of students will be able to meet new friends, access new opportunities and gain a fuller college experience.

These in-person events like football games, welcome week, concerts, trips with students from individual colleges, club fairs and many more, could give us back some of what COVID-19 took away.

A year online was nothing that the University could plan for, and they truly made the experience the best they could for the current freshmen. However, we can continue to improve students’ experiences by bringing back typical college experiences after the pandemic and giving students what they lost the previous year.


Reach the columnist at atretsch@asu.edu or follow @alexistretschok on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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