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First-year university student reflects on challenges

One of the few constants of this year was the fact that school wasn’t. Studies have changed from online to in-class to both and back to online.

One of the few constants of this year was the fact that school wasn’t.

Studies have changed from online to in-class to both and back to online. Universities were also forced to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions that have come, by changing nearly their entire curriculum to online work that the students could do at home and individually. University students have done most of their schooling online, and from their homes, even if their universities were provinces away.

“At first it was difficult to get myself into a rhythm and get organized, but I knew that my future was very much dependent on these classes,” recalled Jaiden Jocelyn, a student at the University of Saskatchewan and an Estevan citizen.

“It was honestly easier than I expected to get organized and familiar on how everything worked.”

Jocelyn completed his entire first year at the University of Saskatchewan online, and was forced to work around the deadlines and challenges that arose.

“I struggled with delivery of information,” Jocelyn says, speaking about the challenges he faced during the year. He did manage to make the most of his year online, however. “I enjoyed school a lot, but definitely would have preferred to do my first year on campus that is for sure. There are more opportunities presented when you are face to face with professors.”

The pandemic, the lockdowns especially, have also changed the way students, parents and teachers all look at schooling and education in general. Although the old system was preferable for most, online studies have raised questions and doubts that the old system is the perfect way to teach, even if online schooling had its difficulties.

Not all households had access to an internet connection or a computer, and some had chaotic households, with many children working on the same computer. Putting more stress on parents and older siblings, many daycares were closed, and some students were forced to bring their younger siblings or relatives to their classes as parents began working from home. In addition, most students found it difficult to self-motivate themselves. They have come to accept that fact in schools, however.

“A lot of the work was self-driven or self-motivated, but that is what I expected from university regardless of it being online or not,” Jocelyn continues. Most students have known they must motivate themselves. Some were forced to trick themselves that their work online was not as important as what they did in class. Now, as students come to the end of their ever-changing year, they are faced with the prospect of normal classes again.

While most would prefer to return to normal, online schooling has raised questions of accessibility, for those who cannot regularly attend school. Can handicapped students use online schooling during the regular school year to adjust to their needs? Can students with difficulty getting to school also go online for a period of time while they work to solve their problems?

Online meetings have broadened horizons as well, by allowing teachers to invite people and speakers from distant provinces to speak and interact with students. More and more people with a wide range of skills, who normally would have never been able to speak to the students, were able to teach and learn from students through online connections and online school.

Having the opportunity to work online was great for some and difficult for others, but most have come to the conclusion that this year was not normal, and students are eager for a return to something normal. Estevan schools plan to return to their full capacity come September, but with everything that teachers and faculty have been hearing, they are ready to adjust and adapt to new protocols, should they need to.