Academics in the Age of Remote Learning: A Look Into How Students are Feeling

by, Sophie Ryan, Contributor

As the hybrid mode fall semester comes to a close, many students feel that their academic experience this semester was challenging, due to the complications of remote learning, as well as the very real and worsening reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A couple weeks ago, Ian Ryan, a Manhattan College student, created a petition of titled “Make Manhattan College PASS/FAIL For Fall 2020”. The petition has since gotten over 600 virtual signatures, with some of these students voicing their concerns similar to the Spring 2020 semester.

In the description for the petition, Ryan stated: “With Covid-19 still heavily impacting the school environment, this semester has been completely different, and difficult to adjust to. Students all around are struggling, and numerous Manhattan College students have even caught the virus on campus. The stress this semester is providing due to all of the issues online classes are creating is becoming overwhelming, as well as concerning.” 

Sami Rini, a junior childhood education major, was one of the signers of Ryan’s petition. Understanding the difficulty that accompanies hybrid learning, her reason for signing the petition focused more on the lack of motivation during this time, not being able to communicate effectively with peers and seeing less of the rewarding factors for working diligently.

“The most challenging aspect has definitely been motivation. There was a level of comradery that exists when classes are in person. You work with your peers and get through the class together. Even if you don’t know them, the familiar faces and voices and seeing them out and about on campus makes it seem like at least you’re in it together and can work as a reminder of why you’re working so hard,” Rini said.

Along with the stressors of the pandemic, those factors are even more distinguished throughout the semester.

“When it’s remote, it’s so isolating that it’s easy to get lost in the worldly stressors and I find myself struggling to get motivated for any of my classes, even the ones dedicated to my major or classes I typically enjoy. It feels kind of pointless and there’s no one around you to keep you going. It’s just you and the news and it’s daunting,” she continued.

The Center for Academic Success reminds students in an Instagram post of there is not a pass/fail option for the Fall 2020 semester.

Another student who signed the petition was Jon Deutsch, a sophomore communication major. With concerns similar to Rini, he addresses the disconnect the community is facing during remote learning. 

“My current academic experience is very much different than what I had before. Not being around people in-person as much has made me feel more disconnected to others than before and I feel like the quality of college education has entered a major decline and it feels harder than ever before to stay on task because I can’t help but feel anxious about how we will move forward with education, especially with so many professors being furloughed right now,” Deutsch said.

 With classes being online, even difficulties with technology have given students reason to be more apprehensive about the status of their learning.

“The technological difficulties with Zoom and Google Meets are already irritating enough, since it most recently resulted in one of my final classes not being able to take place and everything just seems so much more timid and dull in comparison,” he continued. 

Even though many students were hoping that there would be a pass/fail option for the Fall 2020 semester, the college came to the decision to not offer a pass/fail option. While this option may not be available to students, there are still resources offered by Manhattan College to help students who are struggling academically, especially with finals week quickly approaching. The Center for Academic Success is one example of this.

Sujey Ramos is the director of the Center for Academic Success.

“It’s not too late to ask someone for help. Professors, advisors, and classmates are all resources available in these final days of the semester. The people at MC genuinely want to help you succeed,” Sujey Ramos, Ed.M., the director of the Center for Academic Success, said. “Talk to your professors candidly about what it’s going to take for you to get the grade that you need or want. If it’s not what you were expecting, don’t give up! There might be some missing assignments or some makeup opportunities. Don’t try to tackle everything, prioritize the most important tasks and go from there.”

The month of December is a stressful time for many students, and the college recognizes that. There is still a chance to pick up your grades, and understand your work before the semester closes.

“It’s time to hunker down and power through. Take the next few days really seriously. Make a plan for how you’re going to make the most of your time leading up to exams. Plan out every minute and hour of the day (with time for rest and self-care),” Ramos said.