By Shyanne Long
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the higher education system to rethink their operations in order to accommodate for the health and safety of their students.
As a community college student, I have seen the shift in higher education operations firsthand. Students were moved to an online environment very quickly and for many, it was their first time not sitting in classrooms and lecture halls packed with students.
My community college made a full switch to distance learning in March and plans to remain online through the end of the Fall semester in December.
There has been push back from students and families who do not agree with paying full tuition for online classes—colleges are trying to avoid a decrease in enrollment while trying to keep everyone safe.
While I know some people do not prefer online classes, I enjoy them!
I have had a lot of experience with distance learning. I have taken most of my college classes online because I work full time and I like being able to have more control and flexibility in my learning. Community college distance learning classes have allowed me to create my own schedule, learn on my own time, and work full time to support myself.
All my classes were already online while everyone else was making the transition to a virtual environment, but it was still a tough transition, even for me. I also began working from home during this time, so I had to get used to that while also continuing my studies. I’m a creature of habit and I do well when I have a routine that I can rely on. Everyone experienced a lot of change all at once and it has been difficult for everyone involved.
A struggle I experienced during the transition to my new normal was not having an event in between work and school to separate the two activities. Usually, I have a commute home after work, and I take that time to decompress and listen to a podcast or music. This breaks up my day and I can shift my mindset from work mode to school mode. With no transitional event, I would go straight from working on the computer all day to doing schoolwork on the computer. I quickly began to feel technology overload and needed a break.
To help myself get through it, I knew I would have to create some sort of event in between work and school time. I began going on walks, cooking dinner, or reading a book. These simple activities helped me adjust and pivot to my new schedule and kept me off the computer for a while.
Here are some other ways I saw myself, my professors, and others pivot to the new way of learning:
Some of my professors voiced that they were struggling with not getting social interaction and face–to–face time with students. A professor of mine implemented a couple of group projects to give us the social aspect of an in-person class. Some of my peers struggled with using Zoom at first. Luckily, I had a lot of experience using Zoom at work and I was able to help my classmates learn how to use the tool.
Another professor had a few live lectures on Zoom during the semester, and she included students from the other college at which she works. It was nice to see some new faces and gain different perspectives.
After several months of getting used to distance learning and working from home, I have found a good routine and I am ready to start the Fall semester on the right foot! I am thankful to all my professors and fellow students who worked together to make the transition easier. Colleges are making a conscious effort to support their staff and students while making it possible to continue our education.
What is your experience with education during this time? How did you pivot? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author: Shyanne is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for KAI Partners. She attends Sierra College and is studying Marketing. Ms. Long plans on transferring to a university after completing her units at Sierra College. Shyanne is passionate about expanding her knowledge, working collaboratively, and making powerful connections. For fun, Shyanne enjoys spending time with her family, reading, listening to podcasts, volunteering, and (attempting) to recreate recipes she finds on Pinterest.