The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed how students learn. As a freshman, I had to completely readjust to the speed of college courses in addition to classes being online and having little interaction with my professors. It was a huge struggle and severely impacted the way I study, do work and my motivation to do so.
As Ohio University announces plans to increase in-person course offerings for fall 2021, it can be nerve-racking for some students like me who have not been in a classroom for over a year.
Online learning has not only impacted how students learn, but it had a huge impact on students’ mental health. The increased screen time has been linked to anxiety, depression and perceived attention problems. The isolation of not having face-to-face interactions with students and teachers can only make this issue worse.
So, while the increasing face-to-face classes would decrease this impact, it could actually cause more anxiety in regards to in-person learning and assessments.
With some exceptions depending on majors, many college freshmen have not had an in-person class since high school. Many online classes are synchronous, with students actually meeting with professors and other students, and many are asynchronous. Asynchronous classes do not meet and students turn in work on certain deadlines.
Most of my classes this semester are asynchronous, and the only time I’ve seen a professor is through a pre-recorded lecture. These classes mean a lot of the work I do is on my own time with certain deadlines, and many quizzes and tests are open-note.
Like many other students, I’m one who needs the classroom environment in order to do my work. Online classes in my dorm room did not set me up for success, and those were for my few synchronous classes that actually met at a designated time. However, for my asynchronous classes, I’m sometimes lucky if I get an email back from certain professors.
Students pay thousands of dollars for online education that’s considered the same quality as if we were in an actual classroom. The online education I received included some pre-recorded lectures, YouTube videos and assigned chapters to textbooks. So, while I’m ecstatic to finally be put back into that proper learning environment, we can’t pretend the rigor will be the same and that students who have stayed home or solely had online classes up to now will be prepared for what’s to come.
I’m not as inclined to study as much if a test or quiz allows me to use my notes. With in-person classes comes in-person assessments, and students like me would be worried if the majority of our tests this year were open-note and are suddenly switching dramatically to a note-free test in person. Many students’ study habits are not to where they would normally want them to be, and factors like test anxiety and distractions can make this issue even worse. This alone calls for a reevaluation to the transition to completely in-person classes.
The format of in-person classes is also going to be a huge adjustment for current freshmen. We’re so used to rolling out of bed and turning on our laptops. Many students’ attention spans will need a minute to transition to focusing in class and setting aside time to work, instead of going at our own pace with asynchronous classes and possibly procrastinating with the current online format.
This past year has really taken a toll on all students, especially freshmen. College is scary enough on its own, but online classes and complete isolation from other students and professors really affected freshmen. We need a better transition to in-person classes.
Students cannot just be thrown into completely in-person classes and be expected to do well. We need some sort of transition, whether it be first introduced to hybrid classes, more leniency with open-note work and tests or even more transitional courses similar to learning communities.
I want to go back to normal life more than anything, and that includes normal classes with face-to-face interactions. However, I want to be set up for success for my education. After a whole year of online classes, the rest of the freshmen class and I need some more help getting back to that normal.
Hannah Campbell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.