Learning to learn online: A new challenge

By Kelsey Lansing (TheLorian)

“Online learning? This will be great, I can’t wait to stay home all day!” The infamous phrase thousands of students were saying or thinking when they heard school was moving online. After moving past the nice thoughts, students eventually bump into reality. Online learning looks a little less fun and a lot more stressful. The comparison of online learning and in-person learning is difficult to see, especially in the midst of a global pandemic and the other issues in the world at the moment. Either way you look at it, online learning ends up looking like a chaotic and stressful experience. 

Up until a couple months ago, students didn’t truly realize what all was involved with online learning. Then, after COVID-19 hit in the U.S., they got launched into a new normal that many students, myself included, were not ready for. Despite the situation, some students have found the silver linings in learning online.

The first and maybe most important factor is the comfort of knowing that you can still attend school online without risking your health or facing any repercussions. Should COVID-19 flare up again in our communities, we are prepared to continue our education. In addition to this adaptive mode of education, students are also learning more self-discipline. With classes being online, we are forced to be more responsible for our education and future. Lastly, I believe that online learning allows for students to have a more flexible schedule that is suited to individual needs.

While many schools across the country have been making improvements and changes to their online-learning regiments, online school has its downsides. The negative effects of online learning manifest most clearly in students’ abilities to learn, focus, and stay healthy. Speaking from my personal experience, I feel that I focus better and learn more when I am in class in-person versus when I am at home. Another downside to online learning is the feeling of being disconnected from professors, classmates and, of course, friends on campus.

Some students joke about attending “zoom university” for the year, but while it can be funny there are also some serious health effects impacting students. COVID-19 and college student debt considered, students have reported shocking statistics in regards to how they are doing during this time. Jeff Craven, a medical journalist, states that

“91% of students have reported having stress or anxiety, 81% were disappointed or sad, 80% said they felt lonely or isolated, 56% had relocated as a result of the pandemic, and 48% reported financial setbacks tied to COVID-19.”

As a senior going into my last year, I’m realizing how mentally taxing this year has already been. The majority of that comes from my frustration, inability to focus, and overall lack of motivation. Not only does this pandemic affect a students’ ability to perform in school, but it also contributes to a slew of mental health issues.

The pandemic has had its own effect on everyone’s mental health, but with schools being back in session it’s only adding to the problem. Mental health issues among college students are not entirely uncommon, but this year the statistics have only increased. Many of the issues stem from the policies regarding COVID-19, like social distancing, online learning, and so on. In an article by Jeff Craven, it states that

“college students felt overwhelmed (86%), felt sad (68%), felt lonely (63%), had overwhelming anxiety (62%), experienced feelings of hopelessness (53%), or were depressed to the point where functioning was difficult (41%).”

Online learning in and of itself is difficult, but add a global pandemic and the world situation to the pile and that combination makes for a chaotic experience. Students should not be afraid to reach out to friends, professors, counselors, or anyone else that could help them during this time. Stress greatly affects a person’s overall health, and health should always be the number one priority.

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Kelsey Lansing is the Excecutive Editor for The Lorian.

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