Another school year, another round of classes. I’m sure that’s what’s been going through everyone’s minds as the University of Indianapolis begins its 2021 fall semester. However, this semester, there were a lot of changes made to the university. Probably one of the most major changes has been the switch the majority of classes made from being held virtual to in-person. This particular switch has resulted in mixed emotions in the UIndy community. Personally, I believe that the switch back to in-person classes was the best choice that the university could have made.
UIndy’s curriculum was primarily virtual last year, meaning that almost all classes offered were conducted online via Zoom. I’m sure this made going to class fairly easy and efficient for most students. Nevertheless, some students may have found it difficult to concentrate during class and understand certain assignments. That was definitely the case for me. For example, when I would attend my math and English classes over Zoom, I wouldn’t pay attention to what my teacher was saying. Instead, I’d be on my phone checking Snapchat or watching Netflix. Furthermore, virtual learning limits the interaction between the student and the professor. Professors held various office hours via Zoom, but it’s not the same as being face-to-face with someone and truly retaining the information that is given. With in-person classes, you’re put in a room that is associated with the class, so it’s a lot easier to focus on what is being taught.
Not only is it easier to focus in a physical classroom, assignments and due dates are clearer. In my opinion, assignments are easier to turn in online and there’s more leeway for when work is due. However, this leaves more room for procrastination. It is well known that with procrastination comes neglect, and neglect leads to poor grades. With in-person classes, due dates are much more defined and there is more pressure to actually complete the assigned work. Moreover, your professors are right there to answer any questions you may have regarding due dates or anything else for that matter.
Along with academics, the social aspect of college was impacted by virtual learning, as well. Most students were not given a proper college experience, especially first-year students. With classes being over Zoom, students would stay holed up in their dorms working on homework or passing time until their next class. As a result, the campus was fairly quiet and everyone kept to themselves. If classes had been in-person, the campus would be filled with commuters and residents alike. Students would be passing someone new wherever they went, whether that be on the sidewalks or in the buildings. The constant interaction that comes with in-person classes brings a sense of belonging and community to UIndy.
However, many people believe that it’s too soon to bring everyone back together. That may be so, but the university has taken precautions and the necessary steps to make sure that classes are in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rules and regulations. It was announced before the semester began that vaccines are required for all students and faculty that are coming to campus. Along with the vaccine requirement, UIndy is keeping their mask mandate in place. I believe that as long as everyone adheres to the guidelines and practices proper safety precautions, it’s never too early to start becoming a community again.
Even with all of the benefits of switching back to fully in-person classes, change is always hard to adjust to. After a year and a half of virtual learning, a person will get used to that sort of setting. It’s going to be hard for students and faculty alike to adjust to being back in person and interacting with more people. It’s definitely been rough for me. Even though I took a gap year last year when COVID-19 was at its worst, I had still experienced online learning in my last half of high school. If I’m honest, it was probably the worst experience of my life. I wasn’t keeping up with due dates and I wasn’t actually paying attention in class, I was just there. I was waiting until the last minute to do assignments. Worst of all, I had lost all of my motivation to do or finish anything. At that point, it wasn’t a problem of procrastination, it was a problem of being motivated and pressured to do the work. I felt that the work wasn’t truly worth anything and that my classes weren’t benefitting me in any way. With that being said, I’ve been in that same mindset for the past year and a half, which is not the best mindset to start in-person classes with.
Although going back to traditional in-person classes will be a challenge to get used to, I believe that it’s an essential part of learning. It’ll definitely take some time and patience to completely adjust, but I believe that UIndy is on the right track to becoming “normal” again.