I’m not mad, just disappointed: Why my final semester of university has been a letdown
After four years of ruthless studying, building lifelong friendships, and insightful self-development, I will be sad to leave my undergraduate experience behind as I anxiously enter the working world this spring.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m very excited to graduate and start the next chapter, but my dreams of impatiently waiting with thousands of other students to cross the stage and receive my degree have been infected by COVID-19.
While spring graduation has been “post-phoned,” I highly doubt I’ll walk across a university stage until I receive a Master’s degree years from now.
But it’s not just graduation that has disappointed me; I’m finally feeling the adversity of eight months of online learning and virtual student experiences coupled with waves of strict lockdowns.
Adapting to working from home was easy, but maintaining the work-life balance has proven difficult. While students are always challenged by time management, it was easier to manage by going to study on campus and returning home once the work was finished.
Now, my bedroom also functions as a lecture hall, library, coffee shop and gym, all at once. I attend lectures and do my homework at the same desk at which I socialize with friends, in the same room in which I sleep and work out.
While this stay-at-home package is advertised to help mitigate COVID-19, we cannot ignore the effects of the investment and, similar to the beginning of the pandemic, we must adjust accordingly.
The majority of my online learning experiences have been positive; however, there are still a few instances that could benefit from improvement.
While we’ve heard many times about the negative effects of prolonged screen time, student learning is also impacted by the level of engagement with the computer.
Sitting in a three-hour lecture with no breaks and no discussion does not hold students’ attention, and I have a hard time believing a professor does not feel exhausted from this as well. Or being assigned a recorded lecture and asynchronous material on top of attending Zoom lectures and doing readings.
These realities are just not viable for healthy student learning.
The initial transition to online learning required flexibility and experimentation and this transition is far from over. While we all hope we can return to in-person learning in the near future, we have to be prepared that these hopes will be later rather than sooner.
Having said this, I wish someone had asked my opinion (i.e. the student opinion) about how to handle online learning. There are hard-working students who want to receive a fair education, but an increase in self-teaching does not work for everyone.
This is one of the reasons why students are in an uproar over teaching methods like Respondus Lockdown Browser and webcam monitoring during exams. No one took into consideration the effects it has on student performance, mental health, or privacy, because no one asked us.
I praise the professors who ask for mid-term evaluations, and would encourage more professors to do so. While all feedback may not be implemented, you are allowing the student the opportunity to be heard and take responsibility for their learning.
Asking for student feedback can also mitigate assumptions. I’ve had a lot of professors assume that their students will have time on reading week to work on their assigned project,; but the reality is, every other professor has said the exact same thing and students cannot catch a break.
Unfortunately, this past reading week was not a break for me; I’ve had to juggle five courses, job applications, extracurriculars, and apartment hunting while dealing with insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, migraines and aloofness.
I know I’m not alone, but it makes me feel even worse that other people are experiencing the same awful feelings. I don’t feel like I’m finishing my degree on a positive note; I’m just desperate to get out before I’ve burnt out completely.
Whether you are finishing, starting, or in the middle of your education, you will probably agree this year has been a letdown. Enduring this pandemic has been no easy task, but I hope the future brings healthy living and healthy practices.
I’m not mad at anyone, I’m just disappointed this is the way it is;, but, we will all move on to see what happens in the next chapter, whether that be spending another year at Laurier or entering the workforce.