Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER being accepted to Georgia State University, 18-year-old Dion Brown never imagined he would have to face a different freshman experience unlike most students entering their first year of college.
Having just graduated from Kingsway Academy high school this year, Mr Brown thought he would spend his first year on campus, meeting new friends and adjusting to college life. But as universities around the world transition to online learning in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students pursuing a degree abroad have decided to remain at home and continue their studies through online classes.
According to the New York Times, the ability for many international students to return to American campuses has been thrown into question after the Trump administration gave a directive that students whose classes were moving entirely online for the Fall would be stripped of their visas and required to leave the United States.
Speaking to The Tribune on how the pandemic has affected his college plans, Mr Brown said: “I spoke to my advisers and they told us that we have two options. They told us that it doesn’t make sense coming to the campus because it will be too much with the travel restrictions and getting a visa appointment.
“And they told us that when you go to campus, you would probably only have a face-to-face class like once a month and the rest of the classes will be online. So for me, I will just continue with the online classes for the full year.”
For the 18-year-old, having to transition to virtual learning for college will not be a new phenomenon. In March, the government mandated the closure of schools after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case, resulting in many local institutions shifting to online classes.
Speaking of the experience, he told The Tribune: “Like for me, I prefer being in the classroom where I can hear because that’s how I remember and soak in my knowledge, but some persons rather read a book or rather watch videos. Some students felt like we weren’t really learning and just turning in an assignment to get a grade at the end of the day, so it was a huge adjustment and not even just with the learning side but our whole team.”
The student said while it was not easy having to transition to virtual learning, he believes the experience has prepared him for when he starts his college studies online.
“When we transitioned to online class (at Kingsway), it was first hard because you have (to have) that self-discipline to say ‘okay, well I need to log on to do my work’ so now, I kind of know how to have that full discipline to say ‘hey, I’m going to get some work done (or) I’m going to sit down on my laptop and I’m going to put in three hours or four hours today and get my work done,’” he told The Tribune.
“So having to do work online for those few months really gave us some perspective for those few months as to how to actually navigate this online class thing and it’s not so scary as people thought it would be.”
Hoping to study marketing at Georgia State University for four years, Mr Brown said he will transfer to the Atlanta campus for his sophomore year.
In the meantime, he plans to remain focused on his studies and keep a positive attitude throughout it all.
“I look at it as an opportunity for something else because I will be doing my online classes and it will be virtual so I wouldn’t have to have like Zoom classes so I would work on my own pace,” he said.
“Apparently, the lectures are recorded and whatever I have the time to go online, I just go online and do my assignment and complete the class like that. So, I will take that as opportunity like when I am home, I can look for a job related to my field or just to get experience while I’m home so I’ll have a real-life job experience while also getting my degree.
“Because that’s all you can do because you can’t dwell on the setbacks, you have to use them to further yourself to do something great. You can’t just sit home and mope about. It’s other ways and avenues that you can use to better yourself throughout this situation.”