by Kyla Guifoil, Staff Writer Jenn GuilbeaultJenn Guilbeault is a sophomore from Massachusetts who decided to stay remote during the fall 2020 semester. However, she is planning on returning to campus next semester. Originally, the uncertainty regarding life in a pandemic convinced Gilbeault to register as a remote student this fall.“I didn’t really feel like moving all my stuff in just to be sent home,” Guilbeault said. “Since [everything] was so unpredictable, it was smarter for me to stay home and save the money this semester, and then just go back next semester.”Guilbeault’s roommates are on campus this semester, and hearing from them and other friends at Manhattan College makes her feel comfortable coming back in January. Guilbeault shared that a few of her friends had tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the semester, and she feels MC’s guidelines were effective in addressing the cases and minimizing the spread of the virus. She is also grateful for her professors being understanding and supportive to her as a remote student. For Guilbeault, being a remote student has given her an opportunity to refresh and focus on schoolwork. Since she is home, she has less social obligations, which she feels helps her make a solid routine.“As a remote student, I definitely feel like I have more time, [especially because of] the social aspect that I’m not around for, like my friends distracting me or going out and stuff,” Gilbeault said. “I feel like I definitely have more time, that I get my work done faster and sooner. I definitely prioritize my work more, and I’m in a more set routine at home. Like, I’ll do my classes, I’ll go to the gym, and then I’ll do my work at home and have meetings.”However, Guilbeault is very involved on campus and hopes to revive her roles in person next semester. Guilbeault is the secretary for the Slice of New York City club, a member of Sigma Delta Tau, the Psychology Club and Public Relations Student Society of America. While she has been able to participate virtually this semester, Guilbeault hopes to be involved in person, and is excited to meet the new members on campus and in her groups. “Coming back next semester, I’m definitely excited to see all my friends that are there, and definitely just being able to hang out with them and being able to get the in-person experience in classes,” Guilbeault said. Walter HaidukWalter Haiduk is a sophomore civil engineering major at MC. Haiduk lives in Westchester, New York, just a 15-minute drive from campus. Initially, Haiduk did not plan on being a remote student this fall.
“I actually didn’t per say decide to study remotely,” Haiduk said. “A lot of my professors had made their classes either completely remote or a hybrid course. So my plan to be a returning resident had changed for this fall semester. I decided to stay home and commute for the few classes I had in school per week to save money on dorming.”Haiduk is hoping to take as many in-person classes as possible and return fully to campus next semester. He feels that MC has taken impressive measures to ensure the safety of students, staff and faculty throughout the fall semester.“I feel that the school has done a great job with execution of its plan to keep the school healthy and safe,” Haiduk said. “I think it’s gone above and beyond the CDC guidelines. I think that the random test screenings conducted every week along with the Jasper Return updates are amazing. I know many of the schools my friends attend haven’t done anything like we’re doing.”Haiduk also shared that remote classes have proven more difficult this semester. “Last year, I had done almost all of my work with my friends,” Haiduk said. “We would do all of our problem sets, projects, and studying together. I’ve since learned how much of a help that was as compared to doing it all on my own. I can’t wait to be back on campus and to get back to earning my degree the way I had planned.”Haiduk feels that being sent home during the 2020 spring semester interrupted his routine and hurt his studies. “Since leaving, I have lost that peer support system that I valued so much,” he said. “My classes have become exponentially harder since last spring, and doing it all on my own hasn’t made things any easier.”Due to his experiences with remote learning in the last two semesters and his appreciation for MC’s safety protocols, Haiduk believes returning to campus next semester will be the most beneficial for his mental health and academic success. Madison SmithMadison Smith is a senior learning remotely in Rutherford, New Jersey. Smith chose to study remotely since many of her professors announced they were teaching remotely, and because she felt there was too much uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’d honestly heard horror stories from other schools about huge COVID clusters, and I was really nervous about getting sick,” Smith said. In the last few months, Smith has been reassured by the protocols taken by Manhattan College to ensure safety on campus. “I think MC is honestly doing a really good job handling COVID this semester,” Smith said. “I just got tested on campus and it was really easy, and I think their cleaning protocols are really comprehensive as well. Our case numbers have stayed low, and I think it’s because MC has implemented a lot of initiatives to minimize COVID cases.”Smith feels that returning to campus next semester is the best choice for her. She plans on living in Overlook Manor, and feels comfortable living in the dorm with the initiatives being taken by the college. Smith also addressed the impact COVID-19 has had on her this semester, especially now that she is out of the physical classroom.“I just find that school is stressing me out a lot more,” Smith said. “I think everyone’s feeling burned out and overwhelmed given the current situation, and I find that I have a lot less energy to contribute effectively to my school work. I’ve also found that my teachers are assigning a lot of work, which is troubling because I feel like not everyone is being super mindful of the fact that we’re in a pandemic. I’m definitely dealing with a lot more stress and anxiety caused by school.”Smith’s experience underscores the fact that many remote students feel pressure with online learning. She hopes her return to campus will improve her experience in her last semester at MC and she is excited to return in January 2021.