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Transfer students welcome the return to in-person classes, reflect on distance learning

2020 brought a new set of challenges for transfer students when COVID-19 forced them into remote learning.

Now, transfers are beginning their first in-person semester at Long Beach State after spending the last year and a half online.

For some transfers including sociology major Mahnoor Uraizee, the transition to remote learning in community college was detrimental to their learning experience as they experienced mental health and academic challenges among other issues, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Education.

Uraizee, who transferred from Cerritos College, said learning was easier in-person as it allowed for better collaboration with other students.

“I was a full time student and I wanted to stay involved,” Uraizee said. “I was on campus all day, so I would have gaps in between classes. I even joined student government.”

When COVID-19 moved Uraizee’s classes to online-only, she appreciated being able to work at her own pace, but the convenience of virtual school wasn’t enough to ignore its drawbacks.

She lived with a large family and she struggled to pay attention during class. She began lacking motivation for assignments until they would pile up and overwhelm her.

Now with the return to campus for select classes, Uraizee is excited to attend her courses.

She said social interaction comes easier to her in-person than in an online education environment, and her mental health has improved as well since she isn’t constantly at home.

“I definitely felt like things refreshed, obviously I am still adjusting,” she said. “I feel better, I feel more motivated to get my degree.”

/Mahnoor Uraizee (left) attends a class held over Zoom while in the library with her friends.
Mahnoor Uraizee (left) attends a class held over Zoom while in the library with her friends. Photo credit: Jonathan Bigall

Another student experiencing this transition is Diana Mensah, a kinesiology major from Sacramento City College. She recollects being productive and making friends in her classes at her community college before they were moved online.

“I had a 6 a.m. class and I lived really far away from my community college so I would wake up at four, get on the bus by five and get to campus right at six and book it across campus to class,” she said.

Mensah said she saw more academic success in a distance-learning environment. Being able to rewind lectures helped her to take thorough notes and it was more convenient not having to take the bus every day to campus.

Mensah said she has benefitted from the return to in-person in terms of her social life and work ethic. Being able to see a professor in-person for office hours is important to her and living on campus has been a positive experience.

“Just knowing that I can cross the street and go to campus is great compared to my two-hour journey to my community college,” Mensah said.

Diana Mensah says she is still adjusting after the move from Sacramento.
Transfer student Diana Mensah says she is still adjusting after the move from Sacramento. Photo credit: Jonathan Bigall

While distance learning was a challenge for many, Alfonxine Chanel Cao, a biomedical engineering major from Los Angeles Pierce College, said it proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“It actually helped me a lot,” Cao said. “Where I worked also turned online so I was able to balance them both at the same time.”

Cao said she did experience the various headaches that came with distance learning such as Zoom fatigue and connection issues since she lived with a family of five.

However, Cao said that her work ethic improved as instructors were understanding of the circumstances. She added that her home became a more healthy environment in spite of the pandemic.

Originally, Cao believed the transition to CSULB would be much harder, but she said she has enjoyed coming back to an in-person learning environment and the experience of staying in a dorm.

“A majority of my classes are still on Zoom, don’t get me wrong,” Cao said. “But the environment overall is a lot better now.”

Alfonxine Chanel Cao working on assignments in the library.
Transfer student Alfonxine Chanel Cao working on assignments in the library. Photo credit: Jonathan Bigall

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