The Freshman Perspective of Transitioning Into High School Online
The transition to high school from middle school for most freshmen is tough and brings a new way of adapting to the newer high school environment to the playing field. However, in the 2020-2021 school year, what some freshmen didn’t see coming was entering high school through the internet instead, introducing a very much untouched territory that not many high school students have ever really experienced, completely changing many freshmen’s expectations of what high school would be like.
With great and genuine thought, Kiarra Bautista (9) stated, “What I was expecting [from high school] was more fun stuff because I have upperclassmen friends and they always told me like, ‘Oh, this stuff is fun.’ For example, spirit week. I was expecting that and I was looking forward to that, but now that we’re online… it’s kind of not the same. … Spirit week online is kind of limited and you can’t really do anything compared to being in person where you do the morning march and you do dances in person and all that stuff.”
With AHS’ Class of 2024 now entering their freshman year, a lot of them surely must not know completely what to expect during their online year of highschool and Bautista still has more to say.
“I think mostly my math class… and I think learning it virtually just makes it even harder because I actually have to pay deep attention to it and read the book… and office hours sometimes helps but not really,” Bautista remarked with gentle frustration.
Other freshmen at American, like Trishala Sahu (9), also had optimistic expectations for their incoming freshman year.
“I thought that we would just get like a bunch of work, which is true, and I thought maybe [my friends and I] would be going out every day like in middle school when people would go get boba so I thought [high school] would basically be like that, but it’s just all online so I didn’t really get to know really what it was going to be like,” Sahu explained.
An expectation of highschool that Sahu had in her mind back when she was in middle school was meeting new people.
“Transitioning from middle school to high school, it didn’t feel that different because in middle school we also did online school [for] part of [the year], but I felt like if we were in person, I feel like I would have met more people than I would have online because right now I have all the same friends I had in middle school—which I’m not complaining about—but it would have been nice to meet more people and see how the environment in school was as well,” Sahu commented.
Other freshmen, like Alana Shangkuan Weinstein (9), have run into similar problems with their online classes.
“[For] math you really need somebody to teach you what you’re learning and otherwise you just don’t get it and you’re kind of screwed from there. Math would be different in a classroom because teachers could actually be teaching normally and you have the whole desk space to actually work on things. … Like when they teach you the different things you need to know on the boards or projectors,” Weinstein shared.
Coming back to Sahu, Sahu feels that one of her classes is a bit harder than she would have expected it to be.
“I feel like science, [is hard] because there’s labs and stuff that you have to do but it’s difficult doing it online because talking through Zoom is much more awkward than talking in real life because you’re just talking to them like you’re on a phone call,” Trishala Sahu (9) remarked.
Saransh Jain (9) is another freshman that is also having some issues with online school, specifically Spanish class has been quite tricky to do online.
“I feel like in school you have to verbally talk a lot in Spanish and you often go into groups so you can interact with each other in Spanish, you can see if you’re pronouncing the words right, but I feel like since most of the people are on mute, you can’t really talk in Spanish,” Jain explained.
Although, not all freshmen at AHS, like Vrajesh Abhijit Daga (9), have the same feelings towards online school.
“I believe online school is so much easier than real school, partly because sometimes notes are just direct and straightforward, but I believe it could get a little confusing because you might have tech issues like your WiFi might go bad or you might have audio disconnectivity, sometimes you miss learning half the stuff. … It’s not as interactive as I thought it would be because you’re just presented the information, you take notes, or you just copy down on a google doc,” Daga remarked.
However, Daga is also part of some clubs at AHS and can identify some of the advantages and disadvantages of club meetings as well.
“[For] club meetings, I feel like the only advantage would be just logging on to Facebook, click on the zoom link, and you’re right there and you’re ready to go. You don’t have to go back and forth, but I feel like sometimes when you’re learning about a new topic in a club, it’s harder to retain that information, rather than when you’re actually in a club, partly because as I mentioned before, it’s less interactive. Usually people have the cameras off and it just seems like a one way lecture [instead of] a two way conversation like how I’d expect a real club meeting to go, where every participant is actually communicating with each other,” Daga commented.
Despite the cons of online high school to freshmen, Weinstein tries to look on the brighter side of things.
“Some pros to online school are that, I’d say, you have more time since your classes don’t take up the entire period usually and so you can do your work in between [classes] and then you have time to do whatever you want after school,” Weinstein commented.
Despite some of the issues, Jain, too, tries seeing the brighter side of having online school instead of in-person school.
“I definitely feel like the workload would have maybe been a little harder with in-person because I feel like with online, you have so many resources and you can contact your teachers a lot through email or after class, which I feel like, in my opinion, makes it a little easier,” Jain noted.
Jain follows up with even more positive outlooks for online highschool.
“A pro would be you could definitely join school right after you wake up. You can also balance your schedule a lot better. With online school they also have like the two different time periods, asynchronous and synchronous. I think asynchronous allows students to get most of their work done quicker, but a con would just be you can’t interact as well and talk to others as much,” Jain explained.
Some of the freshmen at AHS, like Bautista, have been changing ever since they’ve entered highschool online.
“I think, mentally, I have changed. I’ve been more overworked and stressed… [and] I think it’s more stressful now since I have to really adjust to the online school. Overall I’ve just been overworked and anxious [asking myself] are we even going back to school in the future?” Bautista commented thoughtfully.
Other freshmen, like Weinstein, have started to look at life differently as well because of the quarantined highschool experience.
“I sort of took a new look at things in quarantine because I started thinking to myself no matter what I do, it’s not like anybody is going to really remember that when we finally do go back to school so I might as well take more chances. I started trying newer things [like cheer] and I’ve never really done cheer before, but I figured I’d start trying it out the summer and see what happens. I wasn’t part of any clubs before and this year I made kind of an impulsive decision to join eight of them. … Also student council things, I never imagined that I would’ve done that, but it seemed like it’d be fun so I figured… why not,” Weinstein remarked.
Coming back to Daga, he has also changed ever since he entered online high school and for the better.
“I think I’ve changed for the better because I’m learning how to deal with more work and it’s much easier to deal with this kind of thing because [with] online learning, you save time and you don’t have to travel anywhere,” Daga reflected about himself.
Online school has changed many freshmen and even got some of them to come out of their shells more, which is exactly what it did to Jain.
“So I think in middle school I probably talked to people a lot less and initiated conversations a lot less than I do now [because] in online school you need to also find a way to talk. So I think I’ve been able to start a conversation better and interact with others better,” Jain remarked.