For better or for worse? How students feel about the switch to online classes

Spring break has officially ended and students are transitioning from in-person to online classes. 

Due to the continuing spread of COVID-19, most universities across the U.S. decided to cancel in-person classes and switched over to online courses for the remainder of the semester, including Georgia State. 

They believed it would be best for faculty and students to self-quarantine to prevent potential spread on campus, especially for those who may have contracted the virus. 

Knowing that it may be difficult for students who have never taken an online class before, Georgia State provided resources that will help prepare students to learn remotely. 

These resources came in handy for Georgia State student Kmayla Brittingham, who is taking online classes for the first time due to the pandemic. 

Brittingham was taking all five of her classes on the Clarkston campus. 

“I actually like it because I find that it is much easier to process,” she said. 

Brittingham is finishing up her second semester at Georgia State, and she has been taking the bus and train five days out of the week to get on campus. 

“This is a big break for me getting up early in the morning to catch the bus,” she said. “I’m kind of happy I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Brittingham believes that one of the hardest challenges some students may face is being able to communicate.

Aalayah Foster, another Georgia State student, finds this transition overwhelming but believes if you have good time management skills and can communicate with professors via email, then taking online classes shouldn’t be bad. 

“I use mostly outside resources to learn anyways, so it works better for me,” Foster said. 

Georgia State also provided a checklist to make it easier for students to know how to learn remotely, and one of those checklists is to practice good learning habits. 

Another Georgia State student, Talia Rouser, has come up with an expectation of how online classes will show that traditional schooling is outdated. 

“If kids can learn from online that [means] there was no reason for traditional schooling to be set up in the first place,” Rouser said.

Although Rouser came up with that expectation, this is her first time doing strictly online courses and hasn’t been adapting to it well. Rouser had to withdraw from two of her courses that were required for her major because she believed she wouldn’t be able to manage those courses well. 

“I have ADHD. It was already hard creating and focusing on the schedule I had made myself, now it’s like nearly impossible,” Rouser said. “It really sucks I had to drop both of my major required classes.”

Withdrawing courses seems like another problem students are facing during this sudden change. Dawnayle Allen, a junior at Georgia State, had withdrawn from a class for the very first time since being here. 

“I personally hate online platforms,” Allen said. “It’s all over the place and without a sense of direction.” 

Georgia State has extended withdrawals for students to April 17.

Although dropping classes is a problem students are facing, other students also strongly believe it is not fair for those who’ve been working hard since the beginning semester. 

On GroupMe, a Georgia State student by the name “Angie A.” created a petition that states, “Every student at Georgia State … should receive an [‘A’] for the spring semester.”

Foster disagreed with the petition.

“If everyone gets an ‘A,’ then it will devalue the grade. Plus, it would be unfair for the people who [have] been working their butts off all semester [versus] the students that barely did anything,” Foster said.

Angie, who created the petition, hasn’t directly responded to the reasons why she believes every student should receive an “A.”

However, she did respond to the disagreements.

“Some people don’t have access to technology to do these online courses,” Angie said. 

She believes that switching to online classes can take a toll on students who haven’t been taught to learn remotely.

“In addition, many students can’t afford the technology to access this online schooling, as most of their money was spent on attending university itself,” Angie said in the petition. 

The petition closed with 17 supporters in total. 

Although access to technology can be one of the problems students face during this drastic change, the university is working to help students who have no access to technology.

“Sometimes, situations happen [that] disrupts everything; you have to learn to adjust and power through,” Foster said. 

As students are now beginning to take their courses online, the university continues to help and guide students through the remainder of the semester, learning remotely.