As I entered into my Junior year of college during a national pandemic, I expected professors to be more compassionate and empathetic with their classwork and students. For the most part, I was right. But for some of my experience, I was completely, downright wrong.
For many students, this semester has been challenging for a variety of reasons. Although I signed up for in-person classes, a majority of my classwork has been moved online, and I spend hours every day staring at a computer screen, and have not spoken one word to some of my classmates or professors. This semester has made me feel more isolated than ever before.
Adjusting to a new way of learning isn’t easy for anybody, and trying to juggle that on top of other life priorities has made this an overwhelming semester to say the least. On top of this, the worry and stress that I or someone that I love might be exposed to COVID-19 is always lurking in the back of my mind.
Some students may even be facing the challenge of finding wifi to do their homework or finding a space to complete their schoolwork with no distractions. Trying to do homework in a crowded and loud household is not ideal but is the only choice that some students have had this semester.
My experience with professors this semester has been phenomenal for the most part. By giving extra time to complete assignments, or posting info for mental health resources at WSU directly onto Blackboard, I have felt seen and cared for.
These are the professors that I have been able to build a connection with, even through a computer screen, during a time when connecting with people is hard to come by.
Through Zoom classes and recorded lectures, I feel that I am still able to form a connection with professors and other classmates. I also don’t feel like I’m missing out on my education in most of my classes, which was a big concern for me this semester.
Not everything has been perfect. From a lack of communication and what also feels like a lack of effort, I have also had the experience of having to spend extra time teaching myself material. That is not a good feeling when you pay a large amount of money for a professor to teach you.
Communication of due dates and expectations has also been a huge problem for me, as well as other students I have heard from. Trying to navigate Blackboard, which is a sub-par application to begin with, has left me feeling lost. Figuring out exactly what I have due has almost been harder than the actual classwork.
I entered into this semester reminding myself to have empathy for professors during this time. This is a huge learning curve for everybody and we are all just trying to do our best during an unnaturally chaotic time in history.
My empathy for professors stops when that same empathy is not given to me. This is not a normal semester but that doesn’t mean that professors get to decide to completely stop teaching. Uploading a powerpoint and a ten-question quiz that grades itself is not teaching.
I want things to be different next semester. I don’t want to dread school and feel apathetic towards my coursework. I came to college to learn and have a lot of really great life experiences, and I paid a lot of money to be here.
Professors should be required to either hold normal class time over Zoom or through recorded lectures if students signed up for in-person classes. For many people, learning online is just not practical for them— this semester, they had no choice. With the plethora of video and audio conferencing apps available, this should not be an issue.
I also don’t think that it is too much to ask professors to send out a weekly email of due dates and assignments coming up. Knowing exactly what is expected for the week allows students to plan ahead and take away the anxiety of missing that an assignment was due somewhere on Blackboard.
I think we can all agree that school during COVID-19 sucks and we can’t wait for things to go back to normal. But until then, we need to be able to show empathy towards others and the stressful things that may be happening in their personal lives.
Professors, please reach out to students who are struggling, and find the best way to teach your material to students so they can get the most out of your classes. This semester was a test run and I hope for everyone’s sake that next semester runs a lot smoother than this one did.