Filmmaking is a very hands-on field, which is what you would expect going into film school. Because of the pandemic, we all had to adjust our normal lifestyles and expectations. RIT has done a phenomenal job adapting to the Covid-era and has been an excellent place for my first semester as a film student.
When looking at colleges, it was really important for me to have a personal connection with the faculty and the other students I would be working with. But, because of the pandemic, I was unable to visit the colleges I was accepted to as a high school senior. To adapt, RIT had virtual welcome events and information sessions that gave me insight into the collaborative community. I felt connected with the staff members speaking at the virtual information session and I got excited for my time as a Tiger. The virtual information sessions really were a key factor in my college decision process. What I saw from RIT was a collaborative welcoming community, and spoiler alert, they delivered that this semester.
My Experience with a Hybrid Course Schedule
Upon arrival at campus I was honestly a little discouraged since there were not any other film majors in my orientation group. With that being said, the discouragement went away when my classes started. In one of my lectures, Film History and Theory, there were almost 200 students! Even though we weren’t physically in a huge lecture hall together, the class was still able to communicate online. This was a common occurrence throughout my classes. I was able to communicate in breakout rooms and Zoom chats to plan out projects and assignments. In my Film Production class the professor split us into breakout rooms with our groups for the final film project. From there, the groups organized and planned scenes virtually. We met in person only to film to reduce Covid risks. One of my favorite things was experiencing the virtual screenings at the end of the semester to showcase everybody’s work within the School of Film and Animation community.
Being a first-year, I didn’t have any prior college experience, but it seemed like the professors had been teaching remote for years. My schedule was hybrid, which means some classes were completely online while other courses had an online lecture and an in-person lab/activity once a week. My professors worked hard to set the stage for our in-person classes/labs by putting the prep-work online and giving presentations in the online class before the in-person lab day. This really helped students get an understanding of what to expect on those lab days, which also allowed us to get right to work.
With online classes, you don't run into as many other students between classes, but that hasn't stopped me from meeting other students in my major. I’ve met upperclassman film students through the School of Film and Animation (SOFA) Discord server. I was even able to get work opportunities on upperclassman film sets through the server. Taking advantage of opportunities, like working on other students' films, has helped me learn more about filmmaking and meet more people in my major at RIT.
An exciting new way to meet industry professionals presented itself due to online meetings via zoom, too. RIT’s College of Art and Design is constantly emailing us about exciting opportunities. I remember one day in the fall semester I got an email from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), a club on campus that had Jeremy Folster, a Production Coordinator and filmmaker, speak about his industry experience. I tuned into the meeting and was able to ask questions and gain valuable insight that will help me with my future career. I asked him questions about different courses to take to gain internships in the right skills that would help me reach my goals. I’m really glad I went to that virtual SMPTE meeting. When you are at RIT be sure to check your email for exciting opportunities like this.
My Tips for Succeeding in Hybrid Courses
Overall, with hybrid classes I had to work hard to maintain my focus. Honestly, that is a personal struggle for me. Here are some tips that have helped me stay focused and succeed in the hybrid environment:
1. Minimize distractions.
For many, that means putting your phone away. My phone was a big distraction for me. I could focus more when I charged it during class away from my desk.
2. Don't multi-task.
No matter how well you think you can, it’s not worth it. It was so tempting to open other windows on my desktop and split the screen. But it is college, you need to pay attention. Make Zoom full screen so you can minimize distractions.
3. Take notes, take notes, take notes.
I can’t emphasize it enough. Even though classes are online and you could replay lectures on my courses, be sure to take notes. It really helps process the information that you are being taught in real-time. Plus, you'll have them to look back on later.
4. Have fun!
You’re not in this alone. Classes may be tough sometimes but it's important to have fun in the process and make the most of your time. RIT has many great academic resources and I promise you won't be the only one who uses them! We’re all in this together.