In this story, May 2020 graduate Joshua Konecke, a Marketing and University Communication intern, describes how he and other students are adapting in an unprecedented learning and work environment.
It’s been an unprecedented four weeks as the world practices social distancing and staying at home in hopes of flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. Students have been participating in receiving education from their residences through alternative delivery methods the past three weeks. This pandemic has brought about abrupt changes to our everyday life and has forced students to adapt to these circumstances. Everyone handles change differently, but the challenges we face are quite similar.
I am a senior graduating in May majoring in Communication and English. I moved out of my apartment on campus on March 18, and have been living at home since. I’ve found the delivery of online classes hasn’t been too difficult to adjust to, although I usually take at least one online class per semester, so I’ve had experience working with different methods of educational content delivery. The most difficult adjustment is maintaining a normal routine. Back in the day when classes were held on campus, which feels like an eternity ago, my Mondays and Wednesdays were the same, as well as my Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was a normal routine. Now, any given day could be entirely different depending on what I have to get done that week and when I have to get it done by.
While I don’t have a normal routine anymore, I maintain a semblance of normalcy by trying to work in 60-minute increments. Each day, I try and do something productive, whether it be homework, work, job searches, ect. four to five times a day in 60-minute segments. That way, I am being productive every day during different periods of the day, so I never go too long feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything.
Morgan Johnson, a junior earning a BFA in Writing and Applied Arts, with a minor in Arts Management, also has moved back home for the remainder of the semester. She has found it beneficial to try and do the homework for each class on the same days which she would have normally had the classes in-person. “It’s the best way I’ve found to hold myself accountable and make sure I don’t procrastinate,” she said.
Additionally, Morgan has tried to make her home feel more academic, as she hasn’t done many homework assignments at home since high school. While the first week of online learning was definitely an adjustment period for her, once she figured out how to make her room feel more like her dorm, she was able to better acclimate to learning from home, allowing her to maintain familiarity through routine study and organizational habits she had on campus. “Once I did that, I felt more motivated to do work,” Morgan said.
Another graduating student this May, Zach Schneider, majoring in English, Humanities and earning a BFA in Writing and Applied Arts, with a minor in Education, elected to stay on campus. Zach is used to seeing people move through the residence halls, but now there isn’t many people. “It’s a bit eerie living on campus. The place is pretty dead,” said Zach. People have been consolidated to certain buildings so everyone has access to a kitchen, so some people abruptly got new roommates. While all of Zach’s roommates chose to stay on campus, he knows a few people who got new roommates and have struggled to adjust to that change in the midst of everything else going on. The changes with campus dining haven’t affected Zach, as he cooks for himself. “I just try to go to the grocery store less often,” said Zach.
Although Zach has lost his normal routine, he has found it helpful to make lists on virtual post-it notes of what he needs to get done each day. These lists help him keep track of due dates and deadlines for assignments and projects, which serves to keep Zach motivated. “The biggest challenge I face is motivation. I usually am great at self-motivating, but it’s a lot harder when there aren’t physical classes to keep my head straight. My strategy to overcome my lack of motivation has been being aware of due dates and the desire to finish my last semester with good grades,” Zach said.
A non-traditional student coming from California, Wayne Borowski, is a senior graduating in May majoring in English and minoring in Film and Cinema Studies. Coming from California, where he had to take months off from school at a time, this adverse situation isn’t of total unfamiliarity to Wayne, but still distressing nonetheless. “I’m a bit more adjusted now, but the first few weeks were marked by a sense of surrender and loss,” Wayne said. Some of the classes or clubs Wayne is a part of don’t translate well to online platforms, so many projects have either been cancelled or, at the very least, considerably marred.
Wayne has noticed the days becoming jumbled here and there, and some of his usual customs have vanished, but he has found a silver lining during these tumultuous times. “There has been understanding and patience all-around, and in some ways, despite the distance between everyone, there have been moments throughout this ordeal in which I have felt closer to many of my peers and professors than perhaps I ever had before,” Wayne said. Wayne’s college journey has been anything but ordinary, but he recognizes this experience, along with his previous college experiences, will have him graduating in May as “twice the individual I had been before I embarked on this journey.”
Whether you are at home, living on campus or a non-traditional student, you are likely facing some of the same challenges. Although the last six weeks of the semester will undoubtedly be challenging for many students, it is something that we all are going through, and we will all get through, together.
Story by Marketing and University Communication intern Joshua Konecke ‘May 20
Photo – Joshua Konecke in his new student/employee work space