From distanced to dorm rooms: Sophomores experience campus for the first time

Drawing of two college students walking to class
(Mariana Duran • The Student Life)

After a year of online school, the 5Cs’ classes of 2024 finally experienced their long-awaited arrival this August. Now, more than a month into their first semester in Claremont, sophomores are reflecting on their experience transitioning to in-person living and learning. 

“After a year-long delay, it’s like I’m finally getting to go to college because it just didn’t feel like college when I was at home — it’s like I turn on the magic box, and I do a little thing, and then I go to sleep,” Clay Adams HM ’24 said.

Many students across the 5Cs expressed their excitement during the move-in process and even weeks after. The extreme change in environment was abrupt for some students but nonetheless gratifying. 

“It felt kind of surreal, to be here in person and see all these people that I had seen on Zoom over the past year. But it felt really good and quickly felt normal, like we had been here a lot longer than we have,” Helen Landau SC ’24 said.

Though the transition from the online classroom to on campus was exciting, not all students felt that their schools fully prepared them for their return. Rather, it was the community that made them feel welcome. Landau lamented a lack of support from Scripps College when it came to first days on campus.

“I honestly don’t think Scripps did the best job,” Landau said. “I think it worked for a lot of people, but especially from [the students] I’ve talked to, their orientation was pretty brief and not necessarily extensive enough for what they were coming into.” 

But faculty and community members did provide a source of support, she said.

“I think a lot of the positive things have come more from the people in my class and my professors being understanding of us in this transition as opposed to the administration. But the people in res life have been really helpful,” Landau said. 

Gisele Umutoni PO ’24, an international student from Rwanda, felt that international students were well supported in their transition to on-campus life.

“I think Pomona did a really good job helping [international students] transition because we had orientation before we left our countries, and when we got here, we had an international student orientation and then [we] had the whole general orientation,” Umutoni said. “The faculty are so understanding and so welcoming, I feel like I had a smooth transition because of that.”

Six weeks into the school year, sophomores are still expressing excitement about being on campus, especially as the initial challenges have passed. 

“I think everyone always feels the anticipation, just the excitement of meeting new people,” Emily Lee CM ’24 said. “I was a little bit out of my comfort zone because it was just so many new people, but everybody has been super nice [and] super kind. I genuinely think that we have such a supportive environment throughout the 5Cs.”

Despite the many changes at the 5Cs this year — notably including the implementation of COVID-19 safety policies — finally being on campus is providing a sense of normalcy for the sophomore community.

“I’m happy to see my friends every day, you know,” Adams said. “I’m learning to skateboard or I’m cooking fried rice with my friend … that’s an experience that I would never have [had] over Zoom school, so it’s quite exciting to be here.”

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