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College, Now: Part Two, A First Year's Experience

Ellen Levitt

Posted on February 19, 2021 01:14

4 users

My younger daughter is now in her second semester as a First Year student in college, completely online.

Last week I wrote about my older daughter, a junior at SUNY New Paltz, a state college in New York. She lives on campus at this Hudson Valley school, and her classes are a mix of online and in-person. She's participating in one school activity which is mostly in-person. 

Contrast this with the experience of my younger daughter, Michelle, who lives at home and is in the midst of her second term as a college frosh. She's attending SVA, the School of Visual Arts, located in Manhattan. None of her courses are held in person, which seems par for the course with NYC-based colleges. The CUNY (City University of New York) college system is all online, as is FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), a SUNY school. Other private colleges are also online in NYC right now (St. Johns University, for example).

Originally Michelle planned to dorm at school, living in a double. But she found out that all her classes would be virtual, and her roommate was staying home for the year, so she too decided to stay home. (We were reimbursed for her dorm and board charges.) 

Most weekday mornings Michelle goes to the office in our house, a room on the third floor, and attends classes on her laptop. We've purchased many art supplies for her to use in the room, and bought a new chair and lamp for the desk. We're fortunate to live in a house, so she can have a designated room for her schoolwork and studio. One of her oldest friends attends FIT virtually, lives in a two bedroom apartment, and has to jostle for elbow room with three members of her family.

Michelle is also fortunate in that she is in New York City as an SVA student; some of her classmates are in Asia and Europe, and they log on late at night or early in the morning for their courses. 

Studying humanities is not as difficult online, but there are limitations for the art and animation classes. To their credit, the professors are doing a very good job reaching out to the students. They provide additional tutorials and videos for student reference.

Socializing is really different for Michelle and the online college students; it's difficult to create bonds with students and there is really no school spirit, no traditional socializing. Michelle and a few students have joined together to create a small video club, but she has griped to me about some of the other kids involved, because they have problems gelling together. One nice feature is she has a mentor, a junior who chats with her once or twice each week.

Michelle has so much work! I'd not realized how much out-of-class activity goes into being an art student, especially in 3D animation. She'll go days without venturing outside. Her work often involves precision, in-depth labor, and is very time consuming. But she is learning a lot.

College life is ever-evolving these days!

Ellen Levitt

Posted on February 19, 2021 01:14

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