The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, but the lasting effects it has on students is still being felt.
At the University of Guelph-Humber, students are welcomed back into classrooms as school returns to normal. After returning to all in-person learning this September without the mask mandate, students are feeling the effects of what they have missed out on and adjusting to the new normal.
When courses went from in-person to online, it caught many professors off guard. The difference between in-person classes and remote learning was drastic. The distance between each student could be felt at its fullest. During classes, Zooms react functions decreased the need for verbal participation, and many students would opt out of turning their cameras on.
Third-year business student Naomi Fernandes says “It definitely impacted it a lot since we were the years that were hit the most. We were just graduating high school and so we had no idea what to expect in first-year university… Learning things online was really different. Professors were learning too so everyone is in that new stage of learning how to make it the best. And comparing it to in-person I would definitely say it was a struggle”.
Fernandes also feels the increase in anxiety the return to in-person has caused, as well as “Anxiety for most of us, and fears about what to expect since half of the degrees [were] online versus in person… Personally, it did affect me and I did have a couple of anxieties”
Third-year business administration student Vashti Bagot says “There’s a lot of first-year experiences I never got to be a part of because of the pandemic. And also, most of my second year I was online as well. Now I’m in my third year and I’m mostly in person but it still feels like I missed that first big chunk of those few years.”
Returning to in-person classes after two years of interrupted education has changed the future for Bagot. “I was debating my area of emphasis being in accounting. And then, I also did like marketing at the time, and I’ve always liked marketing but, accounting was just too complicated for me to learn at home from a computer, that I decided to just go with marketing. I’m pretty sure if I was in person first year, I would have a different area of emphasis.”
Now that students are back in school without a mask mandate, students are adjusting to returning to a full campus without the social distancing measures that had separated them for the past two years. At Guelph-Humber, an increased level of anxiety is felt by many students. Vashti says, “I got very comfortable doing presentations at home when you have a script. In my second year, I did have to come in to do a presentation one day. I was very nervous because I don’t have a script that goes along with me as I read. I have to have things mostly memorized; I have people watching me in person. Not me just staring at a blank screen in my room. It definitely built up some anxieties and some challenges for me to be more confident in myself.”
Fourth-year psychology student, Kevin Gibrayel believes “Adversity is kind of something that brings people together. So if that person is feeling anxious, there’s like one hundred other people who probably was in the same room or building or feeling neglected.”
As students at the University of Guelph-Humber adjust to the new lack of regulations, it is an adjustment period for many. One that requires patience and understanding on all parts as we work through this time of change, on a note of the shared the pandemic has caused us all.