Culture shock

Online learning breeds new forms of culture shock

The transition to university comes with a lot of new things: living alone for the first time, exploring a new campus and meeting people from all over the world. For students of color who come from diverse schools or communities, the move to college can also catalyze feelings of culture shock and impostor syndrome. During an online semester, the question of whether culture shock and impostor syndrome still affects students of color was certainly not at the forefront of conversation.

At USC, a top university where white students make up the largest campus population, students of color were not immune to the challenges of being underrepresented in in-person classes. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, being online for the fall semester did not meet this challenge. Instead, culture shock and impostor syndrome took on new forms.

Although USC classes now take place on a computer screen, the faces on screen are still predominantly white. Being online does not change the demographics of the University; nor does it change the feeling of being a student of color in a zoom full of white students. Due to socioeconomic disparities between some students of color and white students, white students tend to have better access to the Internet, laptops, and other luxuries. It’s also why said students are generally more likely or able to have their cameras on, have a quiet space to listen to lectures, and talk the most in class.

A lack of diversity and representation on Zoom likely leads to the same emotions of culture shock that discourage students of color from attending in-person conferences. Seeing an overwhelmingly white Zoom call may discourage Black and Indigenous students and students of color from turning on their cameras, attending calls in sync, and maintaining motivation to listen in class. Being online also doesn’t change the fact that most professors are white, which further creates a barrier and disconnect between black and indigenous students, students of color and their professors. And on a fully online platform, building relationships is hard enough.

In online teaching, feelings of impostor syndrome have not gone away either. Given the completely impersonal academic environment, the isolation has probably, in fact, made the situation worse: students are left with their own thoughts and are more likely to sink into self-doubt, unbuffered by support groups or face to face. coping with communicating with other students who may feel the same way. Additionally, if students are struggling to transition from a high school workload to college, being remote makes it difficult to connect with classmates for help.

Impostor Syndrome goes beyond Zoom classes, however: Social media also fuels these emotions for students of color, especially those who watch their classmates in Los Angeles make friends, relationships and live life. university life. Experiencing this barrage of content while many Black and Indigenous students, students of color, and low-income students are still at home also explains the disconnect between marginalized students and the University.

The truth is that in the digital age of online courses and social media, impostor syndrome and culture shock persist beyond in-person environments. It’s easy to overlook the realities of culture shock and impostor syndrome when everything is online, but this wishful thinking to look the other way comes at the expense of Black and Indigenous students, students of color, and students under -represented.

There’s no way to eliminate culture shock on a Zoom call when USC’s student body is predominantly white, but by talking about it and validating those emotions, Black and Indigenous students and students from color may feel more comfortable on Zoom calls to activate their cameras and participate more often. The same could be said of the impostor syndrome. The first step is to recognize it and create a space where students can talk about it without being judged. There needs to be an effort on the part of the University to help students and share those emotions of impostor syndrome and culture shock – that way maybe students can start to feel that online courses from USC are a safe space to learn and build community.