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Bella Vista Alums Tania Shahvali and Skyla Yoho Tackle Higher Education During a Pandemic

During the week of November 9, 2020, two Bella Vista graduates of the year 2020 were interviewed on behalf of the Bella Vista Newsroom to get an insight view on the new life in college during a global pandemic. Tania Shahvali (UC Davis) and Skyla Yoho (Colorado State University-Pueblo) expressed their viewpoints. During the first step to a brand new life, these two women had a lot to say regarding how things are going thus far.

What is it like taking college classes during a global pandemic? "The professors are very understanding and many of them have different accommodations cause of the situation, such as dropping our lowest grades and/or midterms. All of my classes are recorded and uploaded online in case anyone, especially international students, couldn’t come to class that day; and can be viewed at any time. Also, attendance is only required for tests (the only time we are required to turn the video on)." (Tania Shahvali)


"Taking classes in the middle of a pandemic is kinda hard. Majority of my classes are online and I am unable to meet people in my classes and start study groups. Because I lack friends in my classes, if I have questions I must contact my professor via email or attend office hours via zoom. Both of my labs are in person, but we are socially distanced and normally just receive lectures and take tests. We’re unable to do cadaver labs as planned because of COVID." (Skyla Yoho)


How is college different compared to high school? "It’s a lot more self taught. Professors go at a much faster pace. If you are to fall behind, it’s on you to catch up." (Tania Shahvali)


"College is primarily just lectures and study time. Majority of my classes do not have homework or if they do, it’s not worth a grade or it’s worth little to no points." (Skyla Yoho)


In what ways has your expectations of college changed? "For me, the professors are a lot less scary, and the kids here are a lot more competitive and more motivated to do their studies. The professors expect you to learn the material y yourself before class. Lectures are mainly just review about what you learned, or to ask questions. I did not expect to have to teach myself as much as I do. Learning becomes more like homework compared to high school where you do the learning in class, and homework at home." (Tania Shahvali)


"I was expecting to have more study time and in person classes. I was also expecting there to be more clubs or campus life activities available." (Skyla Yoho)


Is college easier or more difficult than what you expected? "A lot harder. Especially because of the pandemic we don’t get to meet people in our classes. This is hard because when we’re struggling, we don’t have anyone to talk to." (Tania Shahvali)


"College is easier than I expected because all of my tests are open book and open notes, The time management aspect is not easier than what I expected because you’re balancing a lot of different things and are finely learning responsibility due to gaining freedom." (Skyla Yoho)



Do you have any tips or “wise words” for the class of 2021? "I would say, actually study for your classes because in college you build off of every class, so if you don’t learn the material taught now, you are going to struggle in future classes." (Tania Shahvali)


"Apply for scholarships early, start as soon as you finish your college applications. Scholarships are key to paying for college without taking out loans. Also, don’t choose a random roommate, try to look for one via Facebook when the time comes." (Skyla Yoho)


What activities are you involved in and what activities are put on hold due to COVID? "Basically, there are no in person activities. All clubs and classes meet online. I live in the residential hall and we have lounges that are open for one or two hours a day. They are open for kids to get out of their rooms, to study, or hang just to hang out while social distancing." (Tania Shahvali)


"On campus I am apart of the honors and leadership program, and the NCAA level women’s lacrosse team. Because of COVID, lacrosse has been put on hold multiple times. All athletic teams on campus have had to quarantine which causes a 2 week (minimum) break to occur." (Skyla Yoho)


What is it like living in a college environment? "It is very freeing. You get to control a lot of aspects of your own life. You can eat, sleep, and study whenever you want. Also, everyone here is very supportive of each other. It is genuinely just a great, loving environment." (Tania Shahvali)


"Living in a college environment is like having a giant sleepover every day with your close friends. I’m constantly with my roommates, those on the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, or friends in our hall. The college environment when living in the dorms is extremely fun and causes you to meet a magnitude of new people." (Tania Shahvali)


As far as your classes, do you feel they are easier or more difficult online? "I would say easier. Only dude to the fact that lectures are recorded and posted online. So we can rewatch lectures and adjust our schedules as needed." (Tania Shahvali)


"I feel as if classes are easier online because teachers are more lenient and everything’s self-paced, which I like and learn best with. I have friends who are taking math and chemistry who have expressed to me that they hate it because it’s hard to understand and learn due to it being an advanced course." (Skyla Yoho)


What are you hoping to accomplish during your time at college? "Not only do I want to get my degree and work hard to get into med school, but I am also hoping to make lifelong friends!" (Tania Shahvali)


"During my time in college I am hoping to get a degree in nursing and a minor in honors and leadership. I am also hoping to be a starter for my team in the years to come." (Skyla Yoho)


These two women’s current experiences as freshmen in college have a great number of similarities as well as differences. Getting an inside look at what to expect in college and how life moves along during a global pandemic, can easily assist future college students whose journey is right around the corner.





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