Students struggle with online classes, isolation, communication


An empty classroom

Shelby Clark, Staff Writer

“Am I really going to USI or am I just taking classes online?” Madison Martin, freshman pre-nursing major, said. Online classes have become more common amongst students due to COVID-19. 

Besides UNIV 101 and one hybrid class, all of Martin’s classes were moved online after the university made schedule adjustments for COVID-19. 

“I’m handling it because it is the situation I am in, but normally I would not have picked for my entire schedule to be online,” Martin said. 

Martin said it’s easiest for her to manage her asynchronous classes when she writes out everything she has to do.

Asynchronous classes are online classes that do not have an assigned meeting time.

“I would enjoy my classes more if I were in-person just so I could have the camaraderie of knowing who else in my class was having the same problems as me,” Martin said. “It has a social connection to it. You know you are not alone. I don’t get this with my asynchronous classes.” 

 Martin’s English class is her only synchronous online class.

“My English professor is totally understanding; she is a super caring person,” Martin said. “She always opens class asking how we are doing and how we are all feeling.” 

Martin goes to the library to help her focus on her work and escape distractions at home. Martin feels that some of her professors underestimate the length of their assignments as well as the number of distractions students face at home. 

Abby Sink, junior public relations and advertising major, said “I feel like the mentality is ‘oh well these students online who are online must have more time to do things’.”

Sink is the Activities Programming Board vice president of external relations. Because of this position, she is required to interact with a variety of people. Sink chose to go online because she wanted to limit her social interaction due to COVID-19. 

  “I am willing to take a lower GPA because of it,” Martin said. “I have kind of accepted that I am not going to be doing as well as I usually do, and it’s scary.” 

Even though online classes are more challenging for Sink, she uses the notes app on her iPad, flashcards, and makes practice quizzes to help her prepare for her online classes. 

“I learned that if I know the basics, then I do well online. But if I am learning everything online, and then trying to perform in class, it’s not necessarily great,” Sink said. 

Ryan VanBuskirk, freshman political science major, said “Online classes are definitely not for people who are already not good at the subject.” 

VanBuskirk has two asynchronous courses online. He feels that he is doing well in these classes because he is interested in them.

“The teachers normally grade stuff fast, but sometimes communication is a little poor,” VanBuskirk said. 

VanBuskirk feels that he has not made any relationships with the people in his online classes. 

“We don’t have emails or anything for the students, so you have to try and find their information if you need to ask them something,” VanBuskirk said. “Definitely zero ways to communicate with other students in the class.” 

Miriam McDonald, a freshman theatre major and film minor, has two courses online. She is taking Japanese and math classes online by choice. 

“Having a foreign language online is challenging,” McDonald said. “My professor is one of my favorite teachers. I love that class, but I would do better in person.” 

McDonald’s math class uses Proctorio on the quizzes and tests. 

“Proctorio is fine. I don’t mind Proctorio. It’s just I get a little weird having it record in my room,” McDonald said.