For sophomores, a brief glimpse into the first-year experience

Many members of the class of 2024 spent their first year of university online. Now they’re settling into campus life with a feeling of excitement and nervousness.

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Manasa Gudavalli

Many current sophomores spent their freshman year of college online. Because of this, the return to in-person classes is a big adjustment for them to make. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Sarah Unterberger, Contributing Writer

Tisch sophomore Justin D’Alesandro still feels like a first-year student. He spent his first year of university in New Jersey taking virtual classes in his bedroom. Now he’s on campus for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

“I’m meeting new people every single day,” D’Alesandro said. “I’m a sophomore, so I should know them by now.” 

D’Alesandro is one of many sophomores who spent their first year of college taking remote classes, following strict COVID-19 guidelines and lacking social interaction. As the fall 2021 semester begins, and as the class of 2024 returns to fully in-person classes, these second-year students are reporting a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Many feel left behind.

It has been pretty hectic adjusting, but it’s exciting,” D’Alesandro said. “Now being in a big city environment, it’s stressful, especially going from online school to in-person classes. I would just be in my bed and now I have to leave 15 minutes early to get to classes.”

After the class of 2024 arrived in New York, the university expanded its efforts to welcome sophomores who had not been on campus. NYU Welcome, which is tailored for first-year and transfer students, opened its school-specific orientations, marquee events, themed workshops, excursions and other events to the sophomore class.  

CAS sophomore Rachael Mishkind transferred to NYU for the fall 2021 semester and has already made friends on campus; but she’s still actively searching for more. Last school year, Mishkind felt lonely and isolated in her dorm room at George Washington University. She said she is grateful for the opportunity to meet new people — people of any age — as the university returns closer to pre-pandemic life.

“I was never the type to reach out to someone over Zoom to try to be their friend,” she said. “If someone says they’re a sophomore, you don’t know where they were last year. If this was normal and COVID-19 didn’t happen, I wouldn’t try to be friends with people in different grades, but because of this, I want to be friends with someone no matter what their grade is.”

Although she chose to not attend in person, CAS sophomore Sasha Wayman said she was able to make friends virtually last school year. She believes that NYU provided many opportunities for sophomores to meet one another on Zoom. 

“Knowing you weren’t the only one trapped in their room was nice,” Wayman said. “I had to get out of my own comfort zone and direct message people, even though that’s really not me.” 

Anna Guzman, who also found friends while taking remote classes, believes Instagram was the main channel for other sophomores to meet one another and to find a sense of community during the previous school year.

“I actually found my entire friend group through the NYU quarantine confessions Instagram,”  Guzman said. “Someone decided to make a group chat and I joined and I happened to find all my friends on that group chat. If I didn’t have Instagram or if I didn’t follow that account, I don’t really know what I would’ve done because it was really difficult to find friends.”

Last academic year, when vaccinations were not readily available, many students were reluctant to return to campus due to the city’s high infection rates. But thanks to the university’s vaccination requirement, Wayman feels more comfortable coming back to campus, especially since she is immunocompromised.

“People thought I was crazy for deciding to go to school in New York City because it was the biggest COVID-19 hotspot there was,” Wayman said. “Being vaccinated has helped my mindset a lot. I don’t have to be scared of this, as long as I wear my mask, wash my hands and do what I’m supposed to do. And students are now able to enjoy more in-person classes and in-person events.”

Although LS sophomore Isabelle So spent her first year on campus attending hybrid classes, joining a sorority and making friends on the swim team, she is still unsure what to expect from a more normal college semester.

“I don’t really have a basis of what it should have been,” So said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited to meet people and see what NYU is really like. I just hope the delta variant doesn’t ruin it.”

Contact Sarah Unterberger at [email protected]