First year on campus doesn’t mean first year

Why rising sophomores deserve a different orientation experience than the freshman class.


Image courtesy of Simmons University.

Julia Rush, Staff Writer

After a full year of online classes, Simmons University students received an email announcing that campus will be open at full capacity by the 2021 Fall Semester which is a big deal for many students, including seniors who missed out on their last year of college. Simmons President Lynn Perry Wooten wrote that Simmons students should expect “in-classroom learning, at-capacity residence halls, and participation in on-campus events and activities,” by the fall of 2021. 

Unanswered questions began to bubble up surrounding this big decision and as a current first-year, one of my own was: what kind of orientation are rising sophomores going to receive when they reach campus? Many students have never even seen campus before, but they will have already experienced a year of being a part of the Simmons community, which still means a lot even though this year has been virtual. 

We have created relationships with faculty members and other students, becoming significant members of the Simmons community virtually through organizations, liaisons, and sports teams. We will not be coming to campus as first-years and should receive an orientation that reflects that. 

There should be less focus on what the Simmons community values are and more on the physical bits of Simmons we missed in our first year, such as how to navigate the academic campus, which dining hall has the best food and where the best spots to hang out around Boston are. We know what Simmons is all about and have stuck by that for a year online instead of transferring to a school just because they decided to bring students back. Simmons means more to a lot of us than living in Boston and hanging out in other students’ dorm rooms. 

According to Alicia LaPolla, first-year class Dean, incoming sophomores will participate in orientation alongside first-year students in the fall. Though I understand Simmons does not have unlimited resources to throw big orientations for every class, I do find it a bit disappointing to be lumped in with first-year students as if we are all experiencing the same introduction to Simmons.

This year has been very trying for many, and I know firsthand that having your entire first year of college online from your parents’ house makes coming to campus in the fall all the more exciting. I want that to be recognized and to have some moments with my class where we can share our stories when we meet in-person for the first time after a year of looking into a rectangle of each other’s lives.