Higher Education Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic
Shutdown: The College Edition
With the country entering into its second month of life adjusted to the Coronavirus, colleges coast to coast have been particularly affected by these changes and have had to adapt in ways that were otherwise unthinkable just six weeks ago. What started with the University of Washington closing its campus, in response to the spread of the virus in Seattle, has led to over 200 major university campuses also shutting down, and likely more than several hundred additional community colleges.
By this point, the collective majority of these schools have already announced that their campuses will remain closed through the end of the academic year, and are even beginning to ponder if the Fall semester will be similarly affected. As the situation continues to change trajectory, many schools have felt unable to offer more direct guidance at this time.
How are Schools Coping?
While campuses and college games are on lockdown, education is not. In what has shown to be a rather impressive set of logistical achievements, hundreds of affected institutions have made conversions of most of their in-person course offerings to an online format.
Thousands of professors and teachers who have never taught an online course are now doing what they can to help ensure their students finish their semesters as planned and stay on track for graduation.
It is remarkable how schools and students were able to completely adopt a new mode of operation, in many cases as short as a matter of days. Our everyday technology, namely the computer and high-speed internet, have enabled our universities to keep the lights on and continue the learnings of those in attendance.
There are reports of some schools not being able to continue their courses outside the traditional format, where they are then unfortunately having to simply cancel them. In such instances, some schools are returning varying amounts of the semester’s tuition, whereas others have chosen not to do so. Regardless, millions of students are also having their graduation ceremonies cancelled, a rite of passage to many that typically only happens once.
What Can Students Do to Adapt to a New Learning Environment?
Just like numerous working professionals have had to bring the office to them, students too have had to do the same with their classrooms. For most, this means to the kitchen or their bedrooms, and this environmental change impacts some more than others
Here are some tips to help make this adjustment more productive:
- Have a place at home specifically for work, and set boundaries with the people you live with about your schedule
- Headphones help with surrounding noise
- Take breaks- a common routine is a 10-15 minute break for every two hours of work
- Care for your workspace- it’s just as important as the one back in the office
- When you’re done for the day, put the work away and out of sight
While these times are certainly the kind that no one has lived through before, there is something to be said for the ways our colleges have made the most in the choice of their response to this. Stay safe out there, everyone.