Local college students adjust to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Shifting to digital courses challenges college many students' focus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted local residents, including college students, in a plethora of ways.

Universities nationwide canceled in-person classes as the virus continued to spread. Most schools have moved all course offerings online. For students, this not only means attending classes from home but also moving out of campus residences. Attending and completing classes remotely is a new and daunting experience.

As a junior journalism major at Ohio University, I was forced to move out of my dorm and to adjust to a new schedule while studying from home. 

Due to the virus, one of the most significant changes to my work as an active student journalist has been conducting interviews remotely. The restaurants, bars and coffee shops where the majority of my interviews were once conducted are now closed or only offering carryout or delivery.

Recently, I interviewed four other locals who are college students, remotely, to discuss their adjustments to virtual learning.

All four, each with a unique situation, described struggles they have faced by attending classes remotely, their revised schedules and what they are doing with their free time.

Greg Weiner, who attends Owens Community College, is a graduating senior, currently taking six credit hours. He explains that a major change and challenge with remote learning has been not being face to face with his professors.

“I do my schoolwork first thing, some situations are difficult . . .  I have one class where the instructor has never been taught by my teacher online before,” Weiner said.

When not doing schoolwork, Weiner serves as a connection mentor helping establish both on and off-campus resources for fellow students. He said that he had gone from working around eight hours a day to three because of the pandemic.

In his free time, Weiner has been spending more time with family since many local attractions and popular spots temporarily closed. He said, “I spend a lot of time with my family doing things such as puzzles, playing video games and watching Netflix.”

Weiner— although a graduating senior— said he is hopeful students will be able to continue in-person classes this fall.

Kibwe Rayford Jr. is also a senior but at the University of Toledo majoring in communications with a business administration minor.

He said his transitioning hasn’t been terrible for him because he has taken online classes before. Rayford said remote learning is, “definitely easier if you have good time management skills. Personally, I do not mind doing them, it takes away from my college experience though.”

Rayford said that he wishes professors and the university would have been a little more understanding of student concerns during the transition.

“Overall having to do classes online is understandable because there is a virus, but I feel that teacher could have been more understanding,” he said. “I also feel that a lot of college students deserve a refund or something to help them out since their lives have been altered.”

When Rayford is not doing schoolwork, he works 50 hours a week. He said it can sometimes be difficult to balance being a full-time online student and working. But he tries his best to live life and have fun.

He said, “What if I die tomorrow? I want to say that I enjoyed and lived life, but also worked my ass off and did everything I could while I was alive.”

Audrey Berling, an intended business major at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she has been getting used to transitioning back home in Toledo.

She said a good portion of her new daily routine consists of doing schoolwork. “I have an average of three classes a day. I start classes at 9am and end classes at 4pm” Berling said. “I spend all of my free time I have in between classes doing homework for the next day.”

Berling, who also plays Division I squash for Franklin & Marshall, said she has been trying to stay active despite the pandemic by taking a one hour walk at least once a day and completing some interval training.

She said one of the hardest things to give up has been her newfound independence.  “The independence that college offers is something I miss a lot. Going to school eight hours away from home allows me to create a whole new atmosphere for myself,’ Berling said.

Her hope is they will be able to return to campus this fall because she sees her college years as a formative experience.

Berling said, “we are learning how to communicate with others, form relationships and function as an independent adult. Having another semester taken away from us would mean crucial experiences being sacrificed.”

Rebekah Shorter is a psychology major and a freshman at Bowling Green State University who said her struggle is finding the motivation to sit down and complete her work.

She said on most days she starts working around 3 p.m. and has a couple of hours of assignments to complete. However, Shorter said it can be difficult sitting down to complete work because some days she would rather watch Netflix or read a book.

If there is any advantage to remote learning Shorter said it’s the ability to dictate her own schedule. She said a benefit is, “being able to do class on my own time, and not having to worry about getting up and ready before class.”

Shorter said she wants to be able to get back out into the world but says we can only do that if people follow guidelines. “I really hope that people would realize that as soon as we start following the stay at home order, the sooner we can go back out into the world; to our favorite restaurants, amusement parks, hang out with friends,” she said. 

While Shorter has heard rumors that that classes may continue to be held online remotely in the fall, she hopes that is not the case. “I want to be back in the classroom and in the dorms with my friends this fall, but that won’t be possible unless we can follow guidelines and stay at home.”