I don’t know about you, but I never thought that COVID-19 would take over my life for a year (let’s hope it ends soon). I don’t think any of us intended for this to happen, or even wanted it to. But, here we are. In life, we always try to refrain from doing things we don’t want to do and do the best we can to prevent a negative outcome. We can’t really blame a pandemic on anyone, but we can change the outcome of this pandemic for ourselves based on the decisions we make moving forward.
I’m a senior in College and to be completely honest I really do not want my last year of college to be online. I will miss being able to walk through the Damen Student Center on campus to meet friends for study sessions or to simply spend time on campus. This is our reality.
In order to cope I’ve told myself “Hey, guess what? One day I’ll be able to tell my kids that I finished my last year of undergrad during a pandemic, online.” and saying things like “our generation will be in the history books”.
It is being written as we speak, or as I write this blog myself.
This thought process can be used for many of us as a way to cope during these unprecedented times. We must hold onto some level of hope in our minds to motivate us to keep moving forward. This too shall pass, and we will overcome all the struggles that have come with it.
Some might ask “How can we? Even when our whole system of schooling has changed?”
“One of the main things I was told when entering college was to ‘enjoy the college experience.’ Given the circumstances, that college experience has been minimized for many students, myself included. Though necessary, online schooling has taken away the interactive parts of college that make the experience memorable. Attending classes through the comfort of my home is definitely something that I enjoy, but more than that I miss being able to walk around campus with my friends, work on assignments together in one of the lecture halls, or even grab some food together in between classes. It has become harder to make those connections with friends and professors.”
Junior at University of Alabama at Birmingham
Nothing will be the same, at least for a while. College students have had to pack up, leave dorms and find a new place to live off campus, we have lost out on graduation ceremonies. For some who are first generation graduates (Congrats to you!) Losing out on a graduation ceremony can be heart wrenching as many want to have their families see them walk across the stage for the first time in their family’s history. ; oh and also pay the same tuition rates before COVID-19 came about. High school students have lost their chances of attending homecoming, prom and graduation. One benefit from all this is that many colleges around the country won’t be taking SAT or ACT scores for the upcoming 2021 school year, yay for all of you! Some high school students who attend private schools are still asked to pay the normal school tuition rate, which we might see as unfair. As for the elementary schoolers and preschoolers, they are losing out on the opportunity to develop their social skills, interpersonal connections, the basics of learning, being able to go to recess and experience what kids are supposed to experience.
“In my view, teachers and administrators are doing an excellent job utilizing innovative features to make our classes engaging. Students are adapting to the virtual environment by responsibly using platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Canvas, Nearpod, Flipgrid, Padlet, Kahoot, and Quizlet. We definitely miss in-person interaction and being able to spend time with our peers. Though, it's important to maintain a positive attitude and find opportunities for personal development while we are zooming into school.”
Junior at NSU University School || Parkland Resident.
Here I am mentioning some positives and negatives to how students of today have had to adjust to virtual/distance learning since the start of COVID-19, but this is how a student would view things today. As unfair as it is, this is our reality. Something we need to accept and move forward with because it will get better in due time. How do we as students move on?
How is the pandemic affecting students and the way we learn in a positive or even negative way? In order to gain a better understanding, I decided to ask students of today on how they are feeling about the switch from in person classes to virtual learning online.
“Online schooling has been a positive experience for me so far. I have been able to be super productive with school and balancing my time with family and my passions. I have more time to spend with my brother and also work on my blogs and YouTube Channel. My teachers have been very supportive and have kept the classes engaging for me.
I do miss seeing my friends in person, but that’s something I’m looking forward to post COVID.
I’m glad we are all being responsible and safe by going to school virtually.”
Fifth Grade Student at Heron Heights Elementary School || Parkland Resident.
...I mean can you imagine what the creative students are going through? Of course now they have more time to do personal projects and such, but how is a ceramics class supposed to work online? Drawing? Painting? Not too sure? Me neither. For you graphics designers, this is definitely the move...
In my opinion, as a student attending Loyola University Chicago, I have mixed feelings about the current situation. Although I believe our generation is making history by persevering through the struggles of this process. I do feel like we’re missing out on things. My brother, Zayn, missed out on his college graduation and for us it was an achievement we wanted to celebrate but the pandemic stopped all festivities and celebrations. I thought it was unfair because he worked so hard to get to where he is, but things happen. Life happens. I believe things happen for a reason.
Has the current school system changed, for better or for worse since the start of COVID-19?
“Virtual school has had negative and positive effects in my life. It’s more flexible and gives me more room to complete my work. Because of the flexibility, though, it takes away from the authentic experience of the learning process in high school. This is because high school is more than just learning about subjects. It’s about learning who your friends are and most importantly, who you are through the experiences and activities that we involve ourselves in high school. A virtual setting takes away from that experience.”
Junior at Spain Park High School || Birmingham Resident.
Again, for each age group it’s different. But for me, I believe professors are trying their best to provide the best distance learning experience possible under the current circumstances. Throughout the summer most of them have gone through extensive training on how to conduct class online. Personally, I’m a hands on learner so this process has provided its own set of struggles for me, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m having to work 10 times harder than before, stay super organized and maintain solid communication between the professors and myself. Hard work pays off right?
Although having classes online might be easier, some professors are stacking on work to the point where sometimes I feel like I’m teaching myself. I miss the in person engagement. Discussion groups in class via zoom have kept us students engaged, resulting in a more socially interactive setting than I thought possible.
Ultimately, my only concern is that things may not go back to normal in the time that we all want. In time for my graduation or even first real world corporate level job. Enough about me, but I hope things begin to go back to normal for all of us. For kids who are inherently introverted, this encourages them to continue to be that way. No judgement, but most parents would like for their children to push themselves out of their comfort zone by engaging with fellow classmates throughout the week. It can go both ways: either this feeds into the shyness, or children are held back from socializing so much that they jump right into it when school is back. Everyone is different.
“School going online and raising the cost of tuition shows us how the education system is a for profit system. It’s all about business. Quality of education has gone down and professors are complaining. I’m taking labs online - how much can I learn doing it myself? If schools cared about my quality of education they should have put the semester on hold. This situation is not fair. We have known about COVID for a long time, corporations have begun to make changes to their own structure so why hasn’t the process of school changed drastically? No one thought that maybe it’s better to put school on hold while life is on hold too?
A private university did not mention that if you decided to skip this semester to wait for an in person experience, which I believe should be a choice, you would lose out on your scholarship. They didn’t create an easier path for us or provide us with options because schools don’t care about anything but money. There are good professors but their voices are surrounded by the elite.
Why isn’t the government, knowing that we are the future, thinking that we deserve a higher education? We are looked to save the world but then we’re in debt for school that’s... online? It makes no sense to me.”
I’m excited to make an impact and look forward to change, but I really want the world to take things like this pandemic seriously. We cannot ignore this. Be aware of your surroundings and what is going on in the world today, follow CDC guidelines and things will get better sooner than we know. I hope universities and private schools begin to realize how this is impacting students on so many levels, especially the financial constraint this pandemic has placed on most.
In unity, as a nation, let’s work together to make our days brighter. Let’s follow protocol, Things will change. Of course, it’s not that easy to say “let's pause everything” because life waits for no one, but this is a team effort. Every great project has great team members. Let’s work on this project together.
P. S. A huge shout out to the teachers giving it their all and the Parents providing all the time they can to make sure their children succeed during this time.
Until next time, Z