Getting Accustomed to a New Academic Life

Life in Midst of Pandemic


How’s everyone doing this quarantine? Are you sick of seeing the phrase “during these trying times”? While this quarantine has been tough for many, we have to remember that we still have a long way to go before it ends. Join us as we check up on some of our fellow students and professors on what they’ve been doing while online classes have been going on.

Of course, due to the quarantine, we can’t do much of what we want to do. Whether this is due to the regulations set in place or our self-imposed rules to be safer, many students have had to adjust their lifestyles. For example, when asked about how this situation has affected their lifestyle, one 118 IT student answered that they couldn’t do errands as freely as before due to restrictions, as well as fearing for the virus. They, and other students we interviewed, also said that it’s harder to socialize and hang out with friends without risking everyone’s health. Another 118 IT student suggests that finding time to engage in hobbies and leave time to yourself is a good way to keep work-life balance during this time.

More than our social life, as students, we still have to fulfill our duty in academics. Seeing as we had no choice but to switch to online classes, this prompts some unavoidable issues. Connectivity issues, for one, pops up, and that goes for both students and teachers. Another is that some students and teachers are not well versed with online meeting tools like Zoom/Google Meet. However, the major issue common among the students we interviewed is that they felt that online learning was not as engaging as compared to physical classes. It’s also hard for many to concentrate on classes and tasks properly. One student adds that it’s harder to distinguish between weekends and weekdays since there’s no clear distinction between “home” and “class.” What exacerbated the problems is that it was so sudden. People didn’t have time to adjust to the new circumstances and struggled during the first few weeks of quarantine. For those involved in extra-curricular works and orgs, they mentioned that all activities became online and it became fewer. On the upside, the online events, such as LSCS’ hangouts, have helped some students take a break when they feel stressed.

So now that we’ve gone through one term of online classes, how are students going to adjust for the next term? For some, they’re considering taking a lighter workload to focus on their mental health or just to be more comfortable for next term. Others have gotten used to the online setting, so they'll be taking around the same workload as before.

However, not only do students have to deal with adjusting to online classes, the professors have to as well. Ms. Arlyn Ong, Assistant Professor in the Computer Technology Department of College of Computer Studies (CCS) expressed that Covid-19 pandemic also affected her lifestyle as well. Aside from that, personal errands have to be more carefully planned to avoid conflict with online classes and overly exposing herself to crowds. On the bright side, she stated that there are some good changes. She could now afford to wake up later and save on expenses and time that she used to travel to work.

As a professor, her teaching style usually involves a class lecture on the technical concepts followed by a demo and hands-on lab activities. However, it now becomes difficult to do the same style because it’s harder to keep students’ attention and there is no access to physical lab equipment. She made sure to have a question and answer portion to make sure there’s still interaction and participation from the students during online class sessions. Laboratory activities were replaced with activities that are done using simulation or emulation software.

With the adjustment to online classes, there are several challenging areas for teaching online. First, it’s a lot more difficult to gauge how the students are reacting to what she is teaching compared to face-to-face classes. Second, the preparation for exams has become more tedious. Compared to regular face-to-face classes, where she only prepares one set of exam questions, she now has to create more questions to make sure that students don’t get the same set of questions. On top of that, she has to make sure the answers are not easily searchable on the internet. Lastly, the reliability of the internet connection is also an issue that teachers face. She can have a well-prepared lecture for the day be easily interrupted by poor internet connection. With the next term announced as still being online classes, she plans to adopt the techniques that worked for her this term. At the same time, she will try other video conferencing tools that will best fit her class.

Are you having a hard time adjusting to the online environment?

Here are some tips from your fellow students that we have gathered:

  1. Set an alarm
  2. Create a calendar/to-do list for your task
  3. Remember your deadlines!!
  4. Always check canvas
  5. As much as possible, stay inside
  6. Find a hobby to keep you sane
  7. Set a ‘me time’ to give yourself a break
  8. Always have a positive attitude and mindset

Some final words from Ms. Arlyn Ong, "Everyone is adjusting and I’m sure that no one finds it easy. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your teachers if you're struggling in class because we’ll understand that it's more difficult to learn from virtual compared to regular classes. Dedicate some time to go over class materials outside online sessions because these can help reinforce concepts that you might have missed; but also don't forget to give yourself time to rest."