December 13, 2021
By Juhi Doshi, Emily Forschen, Itzel Luna, Bernard Mendez, Oden Taylor, Steven Vargas and Stephanie Zappelli
Back to normal life — sort of.
With COVID-19 vaccines widely available, California colleges welcomed students back for a mix of in-person and online classes this fall. After months of studying virtually from childhood bedrooms and other remote locations, students could once again ask questions of professors face to face and socialize with their peers IRL.
The transition didn’t always go smoothly.
Some students struggled to find affordable housing. Others discovered they actually preferred online classes — especially when trying to juggle work with school. And policies around vaccines and other coronavirus safety measures were sometimes confusing and unevenly enforced. Still, many said the chance to connect with other students in person was worth the strife, whether that meant putting on a theater performance together or simply studying side by side.
Reporters with the CalMatters College Journalism Network spoke with students from around the state about their experience returning to campus this fall — the highs, the lows, and the just plain weird. (Comments have been edited for length and clarity.)