Looking forward to next year: Classes, campus life & expectations

Nicole Yeager, Special Features Editor

April at the University means two things: 1) the campus comes to life with blooming trees and flowers and 2) students register for courses for the upcoming fall semester. This year, the passing of spring means a new beginning in many different ways. As students begin to think about the upcoming semester and new academic year, they are not only hoping that they will like their classes but also hoping that they will all be in-person. 

Course Registration: A new wave 

Registering for courses is notorious for being a stressful yet exciting time. In the middle of each semester, students make the important decision of what classes they will be taking the following semester. They have to take into account any major, minor and CCC requirements that must be completed and what type of learning best suits them based on their academics thus far.

All students and faculty can find a comprehensive list of the offered courses each semester, which also details what discipline they are in as well as what requirements they fulfill. This course catalogue, which can be found on the “Course Information” page of the University’s website, also includes the days/times of each course and the Professor who will be teaching it. Once students find and select their courses from this catalogue, registration occurs by class year and time slots. Prior to registration, students will receive their registration pin from their advisor(s). Registration is done through Banner Web.

This semester, the University’s Registrar Office announced an upgraded version of Banner Web that features a Self-Service module for course registration. Through this new version, students can utilize a “Plan Ahead” feature to create up to five tentative schedules prior to their registration time slot. This will not only ensure that students have an easy way to create back-up plans of their schedule, but it can also make registration easier because it allows them to upload all of their courses straight from the plan.

A few things to note when it comes to course registration are: potential restrictions, permission from professors, complications with CRNs and waitlisting. To account for these potential conflicts, reaching out to professors and/or faculty is a great way to get ahead and ensure registration goes as smoothly as possible. Information for all of this can be found on the University’s website. The Registrar Office is also available via email or phone to answer any questions and address any issues. 

This past week, rising seniors registered on Monday and Tuesday and rising juniors on Wednesday and Thursday. Rising sophomores will register for their Fall 2021 courses on Monday and Tuesday of the coming week.

Logging off Zoom

After a long year of remote and hybrid learning, the University plans to continue in-person instruction for the upcoming Fall 2021 semester. While the mode of learning is still undetermined, many are feeling hopeful for a continued sense of returning to normalcy. One of the biggest indicators of this being that the University will return to its “regular, unmodified academic calendar” for the fall semester and likely all future semesters, as stated by the Director of University Media Relations Mike Ferlazzo. For students and faculty alike, this means Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break will occur as they did pre-pandemic. This is positive news for all, as the absence of these breaks caused heightened feelings of stress in the past two semesters.

“During this academic year, the campus community has come together as never before  to meet the demands of this unprecedented challenge and ensure students could attend in-person classes,” University President John Bravman said. “Given the rising rate of vaccination across the nation, we feel confident that campus operations will return to a greater level of normalcy in 2021-22.”

Many COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing and mask-wearing will likely remain in place in order to remain safe and prevent another resurgence in infections. Similarly, the University will continue to adhere to its COVID-19 class schedule next fall, which allows 30 minutes between classes for aerosol dispersion and additional cleaning.

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Robert Midkiff encourages “cautious and deliberate” actions as “we move forward and emerge from the pandemic.” Midkiff also predicts that the University, and the education system in general, will continue to see greater integration of technology and online instruction in the future, but fully remote learning will not continue. “Our strength is found in the intimate, hands-on collaboration between faculty and students that is most effectively provided in face-to-face interactions.”

Hopeful expectations

The student body as a whole has a lot of thoughts and expectations about what their next semester at the University will be like. After more than a year of unexpected changes and “unprecedented times” most are hoping for a return to normal, where community and connection is valued. As vaccines circulate the nation and more solutions are in sight, students continue to be mindful of the circumstance yet optimistic about the remainder of their college experience.

Carlos Vargas ’22 reflects on this past semester and shared that “[it] has been challenging in terms of socializing, but taking the proper precautions to keep the community safe takes priority. I have found comfort in reconnecting with friends that I have lost touch with during the pandemic and has made this process easier.” He continued to say, “I am looking forward to next semester and hoping that we can return to normalcy.”

“Having a freshman year riddled with COVID-19 protocols was tough,” Quentin Andrews ’24 said. “I look forward to open conviviality next year!”

“As Class President of 2024, I am excited to create more inclusive events that open up opportunities for my classmates to make the lasting memories and relationships that were not possible this past year,” Bernadette Maramis ’24 said.

In response to the current state, Juliana Collins ’23 said, “I think Bucknell has done a fantastic job to keep their students on campus by enforcing social distancing, mask wearing and weekly testing. I am very pleased that so many people have been vaccinated so we can create a herd immunity. I am really looking forward to another great semester at Bucknell because I think classes will be in person and campus life will be able to return to normalcy!”

While recent news surrounding the vaccine is hopeful, Kate Normandin ’23 recognizes the need to stay aware and continue to act diligently. “As a rising junior, I’m hoping that next semester will be similar to ‘regular’ Bucknell,” she said, “but it is hard to know now how the semester will go. I’m sure once we get closer to August we will have a better sense of what campus will look like.”

Overall, students seem to look forward to next semester and next year with a hopeful and excited yet cautious mindset. The announcement of the in-person learning and re-installment of breaks in addition to the rising prevalence of vaccinations makes these expectations all the more realistic.

“I could not be more excited for normalcy next fall,” Liza Heyl ’22 said. “If everyone is vaccinated I think we can have a pretty ‘normal’ semester and get back to the Bucknell we all know and love.”

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