Navigating my first year of college remotely

Filed Under: Blog

Nina Okubo is a first-year student at the University of Washington, a graduate of West Valley High School in Yakima, and a winner of the 2020 #PlanYourPathWA student video contest. Check out Nina’s video here.

I’ve always valued education and found the reasoning process behind businesses and their impact on markets and society very interesting, so I decided to pursue a four-year degree after high school in just that. So far, my college experience has not been what I had expected it to be. I am a freshman at University of Washington, but because of Coronavirus, all of my classes are online, and with that, I decided to stay at home instead of moving onto campus this quarter. In addition to adjusting to remote learning, I’ve also had to adjust to college classes, and managing my schoolwork. A majority of my classes are asynchronous, which means I can access lectures and class materials on my own time. This makes it very easy to become overwhelmed with work and get behind in classes, so I started writing down all the due dates to assignments for my classes, and times for my Zoom lectures and office hours to help organize and manage all of my tasks so I stay on top of my work.

I’ve continued to pursue my education and career goals by taking a variety of classes I need in order to get into my desired major and graduate. I started out by taking an Early Fall Start class, which is a 4-week course for first-year students where they can take one course before autumn quarter to ease the transition into college classes. The class I took (Graph Theory) gave me 5 “New World” credits, which is one of the many categories of classes I need to take to meet my general graduation requirements. Taking this class helped me learn what professors expect in terms of work quality. It also helped me understand the importance of continuing to reach out and asking for help especially during remote learning, which I have applied to the classes I’m currently taking.

During fall quarter, I am currently taking 4 classes: Economics 200, Nutrition 141, Japanese 101, and General Studies 199. Three of these classes are a part of a First-year Interest Group (FIG), which is a group of 20-25 students who are interested in taking the same classes. The FIG I joined is called “Understanding Food and Economics,” and includes Economics 200, Nutrition 141, and General Studies 199. We learn about resources at UW to help us with our career and academic goals, and we learn more about the Seattle area. I joined this FIG because I wanted to meet people with similar interests and career goals as me. I also want to major in either business administration or economics. “Economics 200” is a prerequisite class for both of these majors, so taking this FIG allowed me to fulfil this requirement and work towards getting into my major. Joining this FIG has also helped with the transition into college classes and remote learning. In large classes like Economics 200, it is nice to have a small group of familiar names and faces that I can recognize.

Although remote learning has been a difficult adjustment, I’ve continued to work toward my career goals by taking required classes to get into my desired major, reaching out and joining groups with people who have similar interests as me, and continuing to apply my good study habits to understand the material to the best of my ability. I’ve recently learned that winter quarter will also be remote, so I will continue to apply these habits to the next quarter and beyond. My advice for other students would be to reach out to teachers and ask for help if you are struggling, and join organizations and groups with other students who have similar interests or goals as you.