Orientation and Uncertain Times

By Lauren Allen

“You should be super proud of yourself,” Dr. McKim told the students who showed up to her TEC class, Ethics and Hope in Film, a few minutes early. Like many Hendrix professors, McKim understands the unique situation that students are experiencing right now. However, despite the positive affirmations, many students are feeling overwhelmed and under-validated. These feelings are resonating particularly well with Freshmen students.

“I think it’s easy to become disillusioned with our school right now, especially because we have no memories tied to the campus yet,” one freshman said. Where classes are concerned, low motivation seems to be the general mood. “I’m having problems focusing that I didn’t have in high school,” shared freshman Ronni Laslo. “I’m constantly distracted,” said another, Arlene Perez. Arlene has also had persistent internet issues, which have made paying attention harder. 

Students have shared their struggles and frustrations in a class GroupMe made in February by freshman Bauer Lee. Though he initially made the chat to start connecting with classmates, it “became more important [to him] once quarantine began, and everything went online.”  “I’ve made a lot of great friends thanks to [the GroupMe],” Arlene said. Most seem to agree that they’re getting out of this experience what they put in it, which has required students to step out of their comfort zone. Some students, such as Taylor Aishman, still have friends from high school at home. For Taylor, he has opted to spend time with them rather than attempt to make friends online. “It would be nice [to have Hendrix friends], but after 5+ hours in front of a screen almost every day for classes, I don’t want to spend any more time on Zoom or Teams,” Taylor told me.

Freshmen orientation had mixed reviews. While many students felt really good, some said the virtual-style orientation felt “forced” and not engaging. Ronni Laslo, a freshman who lives on campus, said they were trying to move in during orientation and felt stressed by all of the programs. Taylor Aishman echoed this and added that he hopes freshmen get another “real” orientation when moving on campus. On the flip side, there were also lots of students who enjoyed orientation. Of those students, almost all mentioned the “Here at Homedrix” segment as one of their favorites. “The skits were really engaging,” said freshman Zoie Keys. Overall, every student I interviewed mentioned that their professors are working extra hard to accommodate and understand. To reiterate Dr. McKim’s sentiments: we all have something to be proud of for persisting through these difficult times.

This article was featured in the Issues Issue. Check out the Issues Issue in its full glory here.

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