Coronavirus Column: Life as a college senior during COVID-19

In this column, Guest Columnist Kyle Arking talks about going through college in his senior year during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Illustration by Michelle Rodriguez.

Kyle Arking, Guest Columnist

Am I the only student right now who is overwhelmed with stress and work from my virtual classes? Certainly not. But I do think it is important to speak about it. 

I’m currently a senior at FAU and this is my last semester here. I am a film major and a theatre minor. I have been attending FAU for three years and have loved the school so much. I have met incredible professors and classmates who have become my friends. 

Before the pandemic hit, I was expected to graduate this year and I registered for my summer and fall classes. The exact day after I registered was the day that the lockdowns happened and the world changed. 

I could no longer return to school to see my friends or look forward to learning more about the content in my classes through in-person learning. It was a scary time and many people were suffering and still are suffering. 

At first, I somewhat enjoyed the idea of not having to wake up early for classes and commute to school at seven in the morning. 

I didn’t have to worry about getting to the food court early before the line at Pollo Tropical was out the door. I could even take naps in the day because I no longer had classes back to back since most instructors just sent us recorded messages. 

In a way, it was relaxing and a break from the normal class routine. I understand that many other students didn’t feel that way, but in the beginning, I was able to deal with the situation because most of my classes kept the syllabus organized and unaltered. 

Then, the summer semester started and it was very different. I was now in classes with students I had never met and we had to make sure we stayed up to date with what was due. In the spring semester, the virtual classes were easier since I was familiar with the students in the class. Starting a class with students that you have never met before or seen their face is tough. Both summer and fall semester had this same issue. 

I took three classes over the summer and they felt like they were over before they even began. I will say that I learned a lot from these classes and had a blast taking them. 

I also found myself in group chats where I was able to talk to other students. I began to realize that the group chats were essential to these classes. If I wasn’t in a group chat, I would find myself falling behind with what was due and losing that sort of social interaction one expects from school. 

One of the major differences regarding online classes is planning for the class. Unlike most in-person classes, where you see the professor every week and they tell you what will be due by the end of the week, you are now forced to make sure you know what is due by checking the syllabus ahead of time. 

Discussion boards have become the bane of my existence. As a student, I feel that they don’t work at all. They are the alternative for in-person class discussions, but I don’t think they are a good alternative. 

Writing a paragraph (some teachers require multiple, which is heading into essay territory) and responding to other students just feels so robotic. I never feel like I am getting a genuine response. We all know it is for a grade and I feel like they are just giving us more work in an already stressful time. 

Some professors make you read all the discussion posts, and when you get to a class that has over thirty students, that becomes quite excessive. 

To say that my fall and final semester at FAU has been stressful would be an understatement. I have had stress in classes, but have never experienced it to the full degree that I have this semester. 

I’m currently taking five classes and there isn’t a week that goes by where I’m not frustrated at something school-related. I have multiple discussion boards for multiple classes due in a week, projects, and I have to worry about what is next after college. 

I am looking at internships, but it has been very difficult to plan for the future this year when the world changes each day. 

I miss my friends dearly who I haven’t seen since March. Hanging out with friends is something I feel like many of us need right now, but it is still not safe. I can’t do this because I live in a house filled with high-risk family members. 

Classes have become my only opportunity to interact with other people my age. Some of my professors I have never met, and some I don’t even know what they look like. I just get emails. 

I understand that some professors may be camera shy like us, but I feel most comfortable when a professor offers to chat with students about their lives and welcome them into class. 

There is also the added anxiety of Cisco WebEx and virtual class meetings. I tend to see many students show up to class, but I never see their faces or hear their voices. 

I always show mine, but some others don’t feel comfortable doing that. This makes the class feel very uncomfortable and lifeless. 

It no longer feels like a class, but a numbing lecture from a George Orwell novel. There isn’t much that can be done at this time, but I feel that is imperative for teachers to reach out to their students a bit more and rely less heavily on the work and more so on the discussions that a class is supposed to offer. 

Listen to what students are going through right now. Professors have it just as hard, if not harder, but I feel like at this time, there was more communication, then we could understand each other a bit more. 

More communication and less work is what I feel many of us need right now.

If you have a story you would like to share with the UP and want to write a Coronavirus Column, email us at [email protected].