Sophomores return to campus after a year of online learning, hoping for normalcy


Kaylee Stout

Julianna Meinecke, a sophomore at Wichita State, explains goals for this upcoming fall semester on Aug. 5 inside the Rhatigan Student Center.

Everyone had to make sacrifices when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world a year and a half ago. 

Students who came into college last fall entered far from the normal college experience— with hybrid classes, online tests, asynchronous learning, masking up, and a cancellation of many staple in-person college activities. 

But as the semester approaches, a small sense of normal is back in the air. And that is something now-sophomores have never experienced. 

Alicia Saunders, an art education major, is one of those sophomores. 

“I feel like I did miss out on a lot of friendships,” Saunders said. “When you come to college you expect to get friends, but I didn’t get any of that. 

“I had no in-person classes, so I really didn’t get any interactions. I also didn’t get any connections with teachers either, so lots of losses.”

Saunders said when it comes to familiarity with campus, she lacks. 

“I know one building here, and it’s the RSC,” Saunders said. 

She said that as she enters into an in-person semester, she has to have time to prepare and map out her course. 

Alicia Saunders, a sophomore majoring in Art Education at Wichita State explains her goals for this upcoming fall semester on August 5th, 2021. (Kaylee Stout / The Sunflower)

“There’s the incoming freshman, and then the sophomores, and people who have never been here and there’s going to be too many kids who don’t know where they are going,” Saunders said. 

Sophomore Julianna Meinecke relates to Saunders’ struggles.

“[My first year] was definitely weird, I feel like I missed out on meeting people because I didn’t have any classes in person,” Meinecke said. “The ones that I did have on Zoom, we never really met.  We only really talked in the breakout rooms, so it was really awkward. 

“It was kind of lame, but I hope I can make friends this year.”

Meinecke said that she is working on getting more involved this year. 

“I feel like I do a little more since I work at the library,” Meinecke said. “My first year, I didn’t really feel like I was going somewhere to college.  So I am hoping this year now that I have classes in person, I’ll feel more like a college student.”

Meinecke said that when it comes to student organizations and clubs, she doesn’t know where to begin.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what I’d do,” she said.  “I’m an art major, so we do have to come in a lot outside of class to work on stuff.  I did have my art class in person, and that was the one class where I actually kind of talked to people.”

Meinecke said that there were pros to doing hybrid classes.

“Some of the classes that they offered were hybrid, and I think they should keep that,” she said. “I had some Gen-eds that I know I wouldn’t have liked driving to campus to do, so I liked doing those online.”