The Blog

Life as a College Student in the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 2, 2020

by Cameron Hayes

Life has changed significantly as a college student in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Classes are now entirely virtual and campus resources are no longer as easy to access. As my first week of virtual class comes to a close, I have had the opportunity to understand what my semester will look like for the next several weeks.

Professors spent much of their lecture time trying to explain the adjustments that are being made to the course overall, and how to use the technology platforms we are meeting on. Additionally, some professors offered words of advice or condolences to those of us who are second semester seniors without a proper end to our time at Penn.

Lecture content has stayed relatively the same, however there are new obstacles that students are facing. Oftentimes the internet connection fails and you miss part of the point the professor was making for the class, or trying to type notes on your computer while simultaneously having the slides shown on the exact same screen. Many students might not even have proper high speed internet available to them at home in order to join the virtual lectures.

Another hurdle students face is lecture attendance. I am lucky to live on the East coast, therefore having very little effect on my class meeting times. However, students who are located on the West coast or in different countries around the world must join lectures during times they would be having a meal or otherwise preoccupied. If joining the life lecture is incompatible with their time zone, they must create their own schedule and watch the lectures on their own. For students both attending live lectures or watching the recorded versions, taking a college course in your bedroom or living room or kitchen is not ideal. As a member of a family of six, I must try to find ways to keep out the noises from around my house and stay focused on the content I was previously learning in a classroom environment.

I can no longer visit the library in search of material for my research papers, or grab lunch with my friends who, in reality, live across the country and the globe. I can no longer go into the office to work on my projects for the Arthur Ross Gallery. In many ways it is hard not to feel chained to a seat in front of your computer during this time, because technology is what is keeping the academic and social parts of my life alive.

The many challenges students are facing at this time of uncertainty are the challenges people are facing universally. Businesses must find ways to coordinate online functionality if they are capable, elementary and high school educators must try to keep their students up to date on the curriculum, and everyone must keep themselves healthy and isolated.

While online learning has not been an easy task, it is important to remember how lucky I am to be home and safe with my family, as well as keep up with my coursework in order to maintain a sense of normalcy in this unconventional time.