Students question whether they want to be in-person or online for classes, but most don’t have a choice

Mia Alva, Editor in Chief

Although Cal State LA and the United States have battled with COVID-19 for two years, some students are not willing to take the chance with in-person classes, while others are ready to network and interact with their fellow classmates. 

According to Vice Provost for Planning and Budget Amy Bippus, of the 4,675 course sections being offered this semester, 81% are face-to-face, 8% are hybrid, and 11% are online. 

Students are left in the middle of whether it is okay to come back to fully in-person classes or not. 

“It is a bit of a mixed bag for me,”Jonathan Escobar, a television, film, and media major said.

 Escobar said he prefers online classes with the state of COVID-19 and monkeypox. 

“Pandemic aside, I would like to have mainly in-person classes with online classes made available,” Escobar said. 

Escobar can see the benefits of online learning without dealing with the hassle of driving or getting ready for school, “I save time and money.” But, for in-person learning, Escobar can meet his peers face-to-face, create a bond with his professors and receive the hands-on learning that his major requires. 

“There is a certain atmosphere to in-person learning that you don’t get online; professors definitely enjoy it more,” Escobar said. “It shows in their actions, effort and enthusiasm.” 

Since Escobar is in his last year at Cal State LA, he said that the option for online classes is nonexistent and he will be taking three classes in-person this semester. Although given no option, Escobar said that he prefers in-person for his last year. 

“My major requires networking to succeed, and there’s no better way to do that than in-person,” Escobar said. 

Like Escobar, criminal justice major Hugo Diaz prefers in-person learning to have a better connection with his professors and classmates, but he will be taking four online classes and one in-person class.

“I feel like criminal justice majors should meet in person because we want to help people and understand the law and police safety,” Diaz said. 

Animation major Jonathan Luna also prefers in-person classes because it provides a different experience than online classes. 

“The benefits of having in-person classes is that you’re able to focus more in class without getting distracted,” Luna said. “It is easier to ask questions to the teacher and have better interaction with your class.”

Luna will take one online, one hybrid and two in-person classes this semester. 

He remembers when all classes were online during the spring semester of 2021, and how hard it was to do anything at home.

“As an art major, taking art classes online and doing art assignments with limited space at home was a difficult thing to do,” Luna said. “Having to worry about not making a mess or waiting for the professor to respond to emails was a challenge.” 

Other students, like psychology major Itzel Gonzalez, prefer online classes. 

“I am more comfortable to share within the class rather than share in-person, and I don’t have to commute every day, which can affect my time doing academics and personal things,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez will be taking one hybrid class and four in-person classes this Fall, because of a “lack of choices”. She will be commuting from Hawthrone but will rely on her mom to drop her off. 

While some students like Gonzalez prefer online classes, but have to get in-person classes, Vice Provost Bippus said that in-person courses can have up to 25% of online content. 

Bippus said in an interview with the UT, that many students have appreciated the aspect of taking their courses fully online since Cal State LA pivoted toward remote teaching due to COVID-19, but “it is not the same as fully online classes.” 

“We want to make sure we are being very intentional and focused on student learning when we offer online courses,” Bippus said. “Departments and colleges have been in charge of deciding which of their courses should be offered in hybrid, online and in-person formats.”

Each college’s department chairs, faculty, and dean’s office work together to decide on the schedule of courses, according to Bippus. This is determined by looking at the number of students in each course or faculty they have available to teach. 

Comparing available classes in-person, hybrid or online this semester to last spring, there has been a change. 

The graphs above illustrate a comparison between the quantity of available in-person, fully online and hybrid courses during Fall and Spring 2022. (Fatima Rosales)

“The current Fall 2022 schedule has 505 fully online sections and 367 hybrid sections, for a total of 23% of available seats. Spring 2022’s final schedule had 916 fully online sections and 238 hybrid sections, for a total of 32% of available seats,” said Bippus. 

 he graphs above illustrate a comparison between the quantity of available in-person, fully online and hybrid courses during Fall and Spring 2022. (Fatima Rosales)

As for in-person classes, Bippus said that the current Fall 2022 schedule has 3,803 in-person sections for a total of 77% of available seats, while last spring had 3,095 in-person sections for a total of 68% of available seats.