Larkin Barnard-Bahn, '20, (top right) and two friends mess around with new Zoom filters during a Linear Algebra study session. The group met every week to go over homework and study for tests. (Photo courtesy of Barnard-Bahn)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Larkin Barnard-Bahn, ’20, enjoys working on her school newspaper, The Student Life

Larkin Barnard-Bahn, ’20, is a freshman at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is fully online due to the pandemic and is double minoring in data science and Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures.

Q: What college are you going to and why did you choose it?

A: I’m attending Scripps College, one of the five undergraduate colleges in the Claremont Colleges. I chose it because of its relationships with the other colleges, which adds an extra layer of diversity, while it also being a women’s college that has the opportunities of a coed college. Another reason was because of their strong academics without being toxically competitive and really supportive teachers. My last reason is the small class sizes, and it’s close to home.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your freshman year?

A: It has significantly impacted my freshman year. One of the reasons I chose Scripps College was because it seemed like a perfect fit socially for me, but because of COVID-19, I haven’t been able to experience it yet. The atmosphere of an online class just isn’t what it would normally be compared to if we were in person. Because we’re online, I feel more disconnected from my classmates, but it’s not all bad. It’s much easier for me to connect with my professors because I can go to office hours with the click of a button. Also because it’s online, I’m able to focus much more on my academics than I would be able to in an in-person environment.

Q: How have your teachers tried to make online learning easier for you and your peers?

A: In an effort to come back in person, Scripps decided to condense the semester, so we didn’t have any breaks. This led to some burnout and extra stress among students. In response to this, some students created an organization called Nobody Fails at Scripps, which led the charge in asking for a break. The school said that it was too late to change the schedule, but recommended that teachers reduce their workload for three days. Almost all my teachers did, like my music and Spanish teachers. They were all really understanding and great about everything. 

Q: What was one way you coped with online learning or school in general?

A: One thing I learned to do was be able to take quick power naps in between classes. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were the busiest, while on Thursdays and Fridays, I only had one class. So that was a useful skill and it helped me get through the busier days.

Q: What extracurriculars do you do?

A: I am on the senior staff of The Student Life, which is the oldest (college) newspaper in Southern California. Everyone there is so fun, friendly and sweet. I write a story each week, and I also provide support for the section editors. I’m in the Life and Style section of the paper. I was also an associate consultant for the Pomona Consulting Group last semester. The Pomona Consulting Group is a Five C (the five undergraduate Claremont colleges) organization that provides consulting services for companies and as an associate consultant, I helped the Pomona career development office to find ways to better support its students. My associate consultant group was one of two consulting groups that was chosen to present in the final event.

Q: What classes did you take during your first semester?

A: I took Core I, which is a required class all freshmen have to take. The main job of the class is to make sure everyone has a baseline of writing and to also facilitate community among first-year students. My other classes were Introduction to Literary Analysis in Spanish, Introduction to Python and Data Analysis, linear algebra, Music 170 and a walking class, which was basically a P.E. class.

Q: What was your favorite class?

A: It changes. For a while my favorite class was my Python class because we would work on projects in groups and that was fun. One class I liked that surprised me was my linear algebra class because I was dreading it because it sounded really hard and terrifying, but it wasn’t bad. I had an amazing teacher, classmates and my study group was great. It was definitely a class I had to work for and spent the most time on, but it felt the most rewarding.

Q: What was your least favorite class?

A: Mine, and I think most first years would agree, was Core I. While I did read some amazing books, the overall engagement just wasn’t there. It was also hard for me because I don’t know what I want to major in; I felt the pressure to take a lot of classes to see what I like, and Core I was taking up space in my schedule. At the same time though, it did help me connect with other students and provide a sense of community.

Q: Did Country Day prepare you for college?

A: Yeah, for sure. In terms of writing, math and Spanish especially, I really got to feel the impact that Country Day has in those areas. When I took the placement test for Spanish, I got to go way ahead and was able to get into the upper division class. I get to go into these interesting classes as a freshman, so thank you Doctora (Patricia Portillo). I’m also more prepared in math because I was able to take Calculus AB and BC, which let me go straight to linear algebra. Seniors should be prepared for a big step up in college, but Country Day prepares you to take that step.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2021?

A: My advice is to go where you’re going to thrive mentally and academically—not just the hardest school you can think of, or academically rigorous—because you really need to feel supported and at home there. There should be a feeling that you fit there. And good luck to you all.

Scripps College
Quality of classes
Student-teacher interactions
Social scene (during COVID-19)
School spirit

— By Emily Cook

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