First-Year College Students

The fall semester at Skyline college started on Aug. 25 with the decision to fully transition to online learning. Skyline College’s counselors and educators take into consideration the uncertainty of these times, while trying their best to address the needs and concerns of their students.

This unprecedented period of online education comes with a series of complications that students must face individually. Students had already gotten a glimpse of online learning earlier this year, but it is unique for high school graduates to experience their first college memories virtually.

The impact of COVID-19 resulted in California’s lockdown and forced school districts to cancel school, prom, graduation, and other end-of-the-year plans for high school seniors. So when students found out that Skyline’s campus will be closed for the remainder of fall semester, many expressed their disappointment, as well as their curiosity about the what-ifs.

Promise Scholars student Amanda Sayaseng said that when she was shown a picture of Skyline’s 50th Anniversary Barbeque from 2019’s fall semester, she was “looking forward to (it), until I heard everything was moving online again.”

With the homecoming events that the Associated Students of Skyline College and other Skyline clubs are unable to host, many first-time college students cannot fully experience Skyline’s welcoming to a new semester.

Sayaseng goes on to talk about the hardest class so far: COMP 250, Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming. “I feel like I would do better if this was in person,” she said. “It would be a lot easier to ask questions … Then getting the answer right away and then being able to ask more questions off of that.”

With emails and messaging as the primary form of communication between students and professors, it may seem difficult and even discouraging to get in contact and ask their professors for answers in order to understand the curriculum.

Other courses that depend heavily on in-person interaction may include science courses with lab requirements, autos, cosmetology, and other courses that are hands-on. But math courses are a different story. It is common for students to struggle with mathematics and tutoring for students taking them is in high demand.

In the Learning Center, students are usually recommended to book an appointment with the tutors, just in case the drop-in tutoring may have a long wait line. It especially comes in handy when students are cramming for finals at the same time.

Joseph Chen, another Promise Scholars student, is taking pre-calculus this fall, and in order to stay up-to-date and organized with his class, he would “take a look at the worksheets they provided before class” and attempt to teach himself the material beforehand.

“Afterwards, I would take the class and brush up on the lesson,” he said.

Through self-learning, Chen allows himself to solve a math problem he barely knows, and later reflects on his mistakes and corrects them after he understands the lecture. Aside from academic performance, first-time college students need to transition into a college setting with the support of counselors that will help them do so in a variety of areas.

At first, Chen was concerned about figuring college out by himself, but asking his Promise Scholars counselor a lot of questions “made (him) feel reassured that it’s not going to be too difficult to get used to college life virtually.”

Other academic programs like TRiO Student Support Services include these kinds of counseling services that will allow students to set goals for themselves, assist with mental and emotional support, and other concerns regarding student life and career.

Brothers Achieving Milestones is a mentoring program designed to create a space where men of color can build on their leadership skills by developing personal strengths and making positive change in their own lives and communities through brotherhood.

Michael Stokes is director of the TRiO and BAM, both of which focus on student success through academic tutoring and counseling with the incorporation of professional and leadership development as well as cultural activities.

Stokes understands how the sudden change of pace of online education can impact student learning and motivation, but he wants students to realize that “no one gets a degree by themselves — Everyone has help, whether it’s other students, faculty, staff and/or programs, we are here to help students succeed.”

“Skyline College is filled with caring and supportive staff and faculty who want to help students find their niche and get the support they need to feel comfortable, confident and competent as they navigate the academic year on their way to graduation and/or transfer,” Stokes said. “We are approachable and here for you, so give us an email or call and we’ll help you get off your island of isolation.”

Students can join using this invite:

To apply for TRiO, complete an application on their website:

For general information about TRiO, call (650) 738-7924 or visit

For more information, contact TRiO and BAM Director Michael Stokes at [email protected] or call (650) 738-4161.