On Jan. 20, Millersville students began their Spring 2021 semester. A handful of fortunate students have since returned to campus, able to attend classes and socialize within the health regulations upheld by the university. Many other students, myself included, are still confined to completing coursework through the D2L portal. In other words, new semester, same online learning.
As I logged into D2L last Wednesday, I felt an assortment of emotions. Primarily, I felt confused about how an extended 2020 spring break led to my third at-home semester. Credit wise, I am a second semester college sophomore, despite not walking into a classroom since nearly a year ago. Generally, students have been deprived of nearly a year’s worth of college experiences.
Days after the semester began, I did get the opportunity to drive to campus.While visiting the SMC to pick up a textbook, the campus I saw was desolate compared to the once bustling community populated by Millersville students. At most, I walked past three peers during my visit, along with a small bookstore staff. Uncertainties of the future for the campus aside, the trip did confirm one fact, the online semester will remain in its entirety.
Similar to the beginning of last semester, the initial workload of online learning led to an anxiety-ridden syllabus week. It’s certainly not that I am opposed to difficult or extensive coursework. Learning through a laptop and being seated at one table all day, is just not a learning style which suits me in the slightest.
Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to remain on track for the semester. If I were to give any advice on completing online work, simply divide up the assignments by timespans. The reason online syllabus week is so stressful is the bombardment of months of due dates prior to receiving any course instruction. Creating daily lists of work in order of importance is one method of spreading out tasks. As a goal oriented individual, I receive satisfaction gradually crossing off assignments on a to-do list.
Unlike the previous online-based semesters, there are genuine signs of a full return to campus in the fall. Over the past weeks, new COVID-19 cases within the United States have dropped 35 percent, according to the New York Times. In addition, as of Jan. 28, 26 million doses of the collective COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, according to NPR. Along with these statistics, I’ve noticed much less posting of maskless parties and large gatherings on social media.
Of course, it’s important for individuals to remain diligent in following guidelines. The biggest task one can do to keep the spread low is to continue wearing a mask in public settings. Yes, wearing the masks for nearly a year is annoying. I especially would love the ability to again attend gatherings and public dinners without the obstacle of a face mask. With being so close to going back to “the way things were,” all it takes is some major mistakes for us to return to peak cases once again.
In my excitement for the potential mass return to campus next semester, I also arrived at a frightening thought: how, after a year of online work, will I properly readjust to in-person courses?
One recommendation for such readjustment would be readopting studying habits. For many, studying becomes less of a priority when online exams are basically open note. If in-person courses resume, open note will once again become unorthodox for exams. To remedy this issue, dedicate more time to regular studying now to lessen relearning to study this fall. Mainly, memorize materials as if there were no notes next to you during the exams.
For the time being, this semester appears to be a finish line to return to the normal college experience. For those understandably struggling with academic and non-academic responsibilities, remain focused and keep on the masks. I wholeheartedly believe the dullness of COVID-19 restrictions will be worth returning to a healthy campus.