The feeling of relief when pressing the red “Leave Meeting” button on the bottom right of the Zoom screen is a feeling students at the University of Maryland are itching to have for the last time.
The unprecedented events of this year have pushed this university to continue remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester. While this style of learning has become a new reality for students, many are still struggling to absorb information and stay motivated to learn in an online environment.
Junior communications major Grace Goodman said that she struggled to stay engaged in class when learning in an online setting.
“It is very easy to turn off your camera and zone out, so it was hard to fight that urge sometimes,” Goodman said.
In addition to the struggle of staying focused, it has become equally as hard to manage the stress of living in a pandemic and the pressure of completing an assignment on time and to the best of its ability.
“There are so many different stressors today, that on their own could be manageable, but right now there are so many at once and it makes them feel unbearable,” Goodman said.
Facing the many missed opportunities that arose as coronavirus spread is one of the many stressors students are having trouble managing. Junior music performance major Selia Myers said that her motivation suffered when taking the time to cope with the opportunities that disappeared because of COVID-19.
“In terms of my mental health, I would say I was in a worse place from March through June or so as we all received disappointing news constantly,” Myers said. “Academically, I think my course professors have done a really great job of simulating in-person courses as much as possible and providing new opportunities online that we would not have had in person.”
While professors have the control to provide resources and accommodations to help students academically this semester, giving students back their ideal “college experience” is something that is out of their control.
“Online learning is in a lot of ways different than the ideal ‘college experience’ that a lot of people are missing out on,” junior psychology major Jorge Chavez said. “This college experience is supposed to be ideal for making friends, connections and networking but instead, we’re stuck in an online environment that limits us from doing so.”
The student body that is specifically missing out on the college experience is the freshmen. They have never encountered normal campus life and are limited to who they can come into contact with. As a freshman who is not from the DMV area, Abby Schlactus is struggling to find friends in her classes. Rather than being able to sit next to students in a lecture hall, Schlactus is sitting alone in her room looking at her classmates through a computer screen.
“I barely know anybody in my classes and this makes it harder to form study groups and find new friends that I have more things in common with in terms of my major,” Schlactus said.
Those who decided not to live on or near the College Park campus this year have experienced even more nostalgia for college life and are equally unmotivated. David Benko, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, decided to complete the fall semester from his home in New Rochelle, NY.
“I never want to do school work at all because I’m in my house and not in a school setting,” Benko said. “Staying home for a full semester definitely contributed to my lack of work effort.”
Although the spread of COVID-19 makes online school inevitable, students are still dreaming about the day classes transition back to an in-person environment. Until that moment arises, students need to find a way to gain back their work ethic to get through the tail end of this semester.