For some students, online learning has brought them new challenges as well as an appreciation for their on-campus courses.
It’s been nearly two months in isolation since CUNY schools cancelled in-person classes on March 12 and moved to distance learning as the severity of the coronavirus quickly grew in New York City. Students and professors had to adapt to asynchronous learning and class sessions held through Zoom in a matter of days.
Now, after more than 50 days of online learning and the end of the Spring 2020 semester quickly approaching, Baruch College students are reflecting on this semester and those to come.
Brenika Banks, a sophomore journalism student, acknowledges that while some students might enjoy online courses, others may find them less than ideal.
“For me, nothing could ever replace hands-on learning on a school campus,” Banks said.
Linet Jácome, a sophomore studying human resource management, said distance learning has made it harder for her to stay focused on school.
“This transition has pushed me to adopt better time management skills in order to not fall behind in my work,” Jácome said.
For others, distance learning has supported their perspective that colleges and universities should offer more online courses, both for convenience and accessibility. “The semester has been a bit reinforcing to the idea that classes don’t need a physical platform and sometimes the most efficient way to learn is the best,” Alex Tony Chen, a junior majoring in finance, said.
Juan Mejia, a sophomore with an intended major in international business, echoed Chen’s thoughts. “We should have access to many more online classes on a regular basis, by doing this we also allow for people with disabilities access to education without assistance or accommodation,” Mejia said.
For current Baruch seniors, the spring semester has brought with it a sense of loss, as an in-person commencement ceremony is no longer a possibility.
“I feel like it’s sad it’s my last year and I won’t be returning to the actual campus to finish my degree” Luz Maria Velez, a senior studying sociology, said. “I felt worse when graduation was cancelled as my family and I were looking forward to it.
While New York makes plans to start slowly reopening the state on May 15, the coronavirus still remains a serious threat, especially in the city –– the virus’ epicenter. With this in mind, and CUNY courses officially staying online for the summer session, many are preparing for a summer in lockdown.
Many Baruch students, including Mejia, Banks and Jácome, are taking this opportunity to take summer courses and get a head start on fulfilling course requirements. Others are planning to continue staying connected with friends online or work on personal creative projects.
“If we’re still on lockdown, I’ll be spending my summer just being outside, having game and movie nights over Zoom with my friends,” Gabi Peralta, a junior digital communications student, said.
“I think [the lockdown] is a really good opportunity to have some ‘me’ time, whether it be creating YouTube [content] or working on a new podcast,” Naomi Lee, a first-year with an intended major in marketing management, said.
Personally, this fall semester has taught me that online classes and managing your time wisely is even more difficult when working from home. However, everyone reacts to life-threatening situations differently and there is no correct way to react to a global pandemic.
While some may be taking this time to come up with the newest intellectual revelation — like Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the field of calculus during the bubonic plague in the mid 1600s — others may be taking this time to get well acquainted with their Netflix account. Both are equally valid options.
I am anticipating a summer in lockdown by registering for two online summer courses, freelancing and trying to be as productive as possible, but this is not true for everyone. If you have the means and are mentally in the right place, taking summer courses is a great way to knock out some course requirements to make more space for more courses in subsequent semesters.
If summer school isn’t for you, some other activities you might consider are designing a new website, starting a YouTube channel, updating your LinkedIn, completing a remote internship, volunteering, starting a podcast, reading 50 books, doing one painting a day, playing 100 hours of Animal Crossing or watching very bad reality TV show on Netflix.
No matter how you decide to spend your summer in lockdown, if it comes down to it, just remember that the pastimes you choose are valid and if it comes to the point where students might have to spend the Fall 2021 semester online, utilize those time management skills you developed this semester.
Students got through half a semester of school while being sheltered at home, so now they’re virtually capable of overcoming any obstacle in life. Just remember to take a break once in a while. If this lockdown has taught us anything, it is that it’s nice, and even necessary, to slow down a bit.