Virtual learning frustration: Parents wonder if college students are getting money's worth

Many college students in the Bay Area are back to school in person. However, some parents are questioning if their kids are getting the quality education they're paying for.

One San Jose mom whose son attends a UC school doesn’t understand why many of his classes are virtual given vaccine and masking requirements.

At San Jose State, there are signs of college life. Students are walking on campus and clubs are mingling. It’s a welcome sight since last year the campus was virtually empty.

"I didn’t want to have to be on Zoom all the time," said Freshman Jay Conway.

Conway, who is from Huntington Beach, considers himself lucky. He spent his senior year of high school remote learning and all his classes this year are in person.

"I feel like just staying in your dorm room for the whole time being in a zoom meeting is not as fun as going in person and seeing a lot of people around," said Conway.

It’s not completely back to normal. Many universities including the UC and CSU systems require students and staff to wear masks indoors and be vaccinated or get tested.

Classes are also online, hybrid and in person.

"I like to have the opportunity to choose which classes I want to do in person," said Junior Stephen Brown. "Some classes I feel are easier online. Some classes where I feel like I need to be present."

"I think the statistic was 68% will be in person so why so few classes were in person," said Lisa Eckstrom of San Jose.

Eckstrom’s son is a sophomore at U.C. Santa Cruz paying for him to live in a dorm with only one class in person.

It’s a vastly different college experience from her other son whose at the University of Utah, also a sophomore. His classes are in person with no vaccine mandate.

"Why is UC Santa Cruz not as in person as other schools are or as they could be especially given the masking requirements, the vaccination requirements?" said Eckstrom.

"Why you would sit in a dorm and Zoom classes?" said Dr. Monica Gandhi, UCSF Infectious Disease Expert. "That’s very spring 2020."

Dr. Gandhi said schools should prioritize in-person learning if protective measures are in place including proper ventilation.

"I’m pretty concerned about the Delta strain because I’m one of the breakthrough cases," said SJSU Senior Sydney Anderson.

Anderson got COVID last month before school started but she was living on campus. She described it as an intense cold. She is unsure how she got it.

"I’m pretty nervous but I know the school is pretty fast on contacting people if they have been exposed," said Anderson.

Anderson quarantined for 10 days on campus. She said she feels safe with in-person learning with safety protocols.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or