The Fall 2020 semester is the first semester I’ve dedicated myself to completely online classes. I don’t count the Spring 2020 semester, as a portion of it was held on campus. Considering this, as of Sept. 28 many other students and I have been away from our beloved campuses for around 6 months. Also, as of Sept. 28, Millersville students are now entering the sixth week of fall classes, marking a midpoint for the semester.
The first weeks of the semester were harsh on my academic motivation. I didn’t wish to invest time in online learning, as I just wished for the more personal and engaging in-person courses to return. It’s also difficult to adapt to a learning style contradictory to how I’ve learned for nearly two decades. Thus, my initial apathy for online courses lead to a tedious beginning to the semester.
I suppose my initial sense of “this isn’t how school should be” passed after these weeks. Gradually, I gained a routine and rhythm with the online work, particularly in creating daily “to-do” lists to remain focused. The act of gradually checking tasks off of theses list is satisfying, especially at the end of the day when seeing everything I wrote down accomplished. I suppose this led to time passing much smoother, as I shocked myself upon realization of the semester’s progress.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to remain consistent in completing school work. If I can say one positive of online learning, I do enjoy having all course materials on one website. I recall forgetting the due dates for a project, then shuffling through papers to find the specific page with the date in a small font. All my professors properly inform the class of assignment expectations and due dates, leaving little confusion over.
I feel the biggest flaw of online learning is the repetition. I sit in one spot all day with my laptop. Despite currently studying four different subjects, I feel as if every school work session becomes the same. This feeling leads to difficulty in remaining productive, adding to an overall feeling of dissatisfaction.
I unfortunately haven’t even visited the campus during the semester. Right before Covid-19 interrupted the spring semester, I began to socialize and gain more on-campus friendships. While I still communicate to some students through social media, I’m disappointed to lose opportunities to create college memories in person. Fortunately, with many lifelong friends still in my, I at least have some companionship during an at-home semester.
Back in April, I wrote about the Covid shutdowns in an article featuring all Snapper members at the time. “My biggest fear at this point is the legitimate possibility that quarantine extends beyond the summer, leading to another semester of online classes,” I said. Obviously, my fears were proven legitimate, as quarantine could extend even to the 2021 spring semester. Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) director, Michael Osterhome, predicts 12 to 14 more months of handling Covid cases, according to NBC News.
Being at the halfway point of the semester, students should still remain motivated to do their work. It’s simple to avoid achieving proper grades when work feels more difficult than ever. Believe me, I was hesitant to even enroll this semester when I realized it would be all online classes again. For those fortunate to dorm and/or attend on-campus classes, continue wearing a mask and practicing social distances. It’s tempting to search for the “college experiences” we all want right now, but we have to get through this in order for everyone else to have those experiences. Above all, be mindful of the positives during these strange times, as they could become the primary motivation to succeed in course work and building one’s career.