Op-Ed: Return to the New Normal?

By Rosy Turner | | Contributing Writer

The fall of 2021 is in full swing and it is the beginning of a new normal. With just over a week of classes under our belt, there is so much to adjust to. I, like perhaps most other sophomores, spent my spring semester taking classes behind a screen in my childhood bedroom, unmotivated and uninvolved. The connection between professors and fellow classmates was completely virtualized and it was quite easy to disconnect from the reality of learning and being a college student. Now, months later, I find myself roaming a bustling campus, walking across Hartman Green to in-person classes, exploring other dorms, cheering on my friends in sporting events, and eating in packed dining halls with no plastic dividers between us. It’s hard to imagine that this is the closest to normal that many students have experienced in over a year — and yet, it’s impossible to dismiss the reality that COVID-19 still has an effect on our campus. Current freshmen and sophomores, who make up nearly half of this campus’s population, still don’t know what F&M’s normal truly looks like. 

There is much adjusting to do, both academically and socially, but I am ready for this challenge.  The module system was the modified way of learning that Franklin & Marshall came up with. It consisted of splitting each semester in half (a module), in which you would have two intensive, 7-week classes. I found this way of learning to be slightly dull because of the lack of variety. This fall, the module system is dropped and we are back to a normal class system. The biggest challenge has been organizing my schedule around 4 different classes, all of which occur on alternating days. As a sophomore student, I’ve had yet to experience this kind of schedule at the collegiate level.  Assignments and papers are due on different days and it takes a much larger effort to stay organized in order to complete all of my work on time. The module system was an intense way of comprehending information and I have come to enjoy the slower pace of this current semester. I seem to better grasp information when the professor has the time to thoroughly teach the material. 

Social life on campus has also progressed from freshman year. Clubs and organizations are now meeting in person and opportunities to connect with others are much more prevalent. I find this new aspect of campus life to be quite exciting. In my opinion, college isn’t just about getting a degree, but also taking time to make social connections with those around you and the Lancaster community. I never took college clubs that seriously when they were virtualized because I did not want to be behind a computer screen longer than I needed to be. But now, with face-to-face meetings, festivities, and parties, I am more motivated than ever to get out there and become a true member of the Franklin & Marshall community.

Sophomore Rosy Turner is a contributing writer. Her email is rturner@fandm.edu.

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