The Risk: What Higher Ed Could be Costing Students and Institutions if They Stay Remote

As a senior at Bloomsburg University, my heart broke on Monday, March 16th, the day Bloomsburg decided to proceed with the rest of the semester online.  I never got to say goodbye to my friends, colleagues, or professors that I have spent many years growing and learning with and impacting my life.  The sadness that overcame senior students when we heard this news still sticks with us today, especially with our original graduation date just days away and no clear site of having our August ceremony. This is a milestone we’ve looked forward to for four years, to show our loved one’s our accomplishments and celebrate and receive the closure we deserved.  This is something we looked forward to for so many years and in a snap of a finger, it was all gone.

Now, I sit here and read and listen to all the buzz about higher ed institutions committing to an online fall semester.  After hearing this, I realize I am thankful I am graduating and not having to face the reality of another semester online.  Personally, I feel online learning is not nearly as productive as face to face instruction.  That personal relationship you create with your professor and fellow classmates helps create a positive learning environment.  It is motivating and filled with discussion but now, that is all gone. Students are doing the minimum to get by in their online courses are they are not retaining much information if any at all.

Students world-wide are facing this awful time with much uncertainty as to what the completion of their college degree is going to look like. An article published in The New York Times titled ‘College Campuses Must Reopen in the Fall. Here’s How We Do It.’ states “students face financial, practical and psychological barriers as they try to learn remotely”. Finances are a great issue.  Supporters want to keep their students close due to financial issues arising with this current pandemic. 

Find article here:

“Continuing online classes, suspending large lectures and delaying the semester are among the contingency plans colleges and universities are making in case the coronavirus outbreak keeps some or all campuses closed in fall 2020, The Boston Globe reports.” This quote is from an article by Matt Zalaznick titled ‘Will all college campuses reopen in the fall’ from University Business.

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Rumors are spreading quickly that Bloomsburg has five potential ideas that could be put into place on July 1st, the day the university will announce its official plan for the fall of 2020 semester but not one is to go back to instructional face to face learning in August. Face to Face instruction is crucial for any student to learn to their full capacity.  Professors are trained individuals who have a lot of knowledge on how to run a classroom properly to help students grasp the context of the course material.

A recent article published on BU Now, Bloomsburg University’s Newspaper, called ‘If BU is Online this Fall, Will Students Stay Enrolled?’. By current student, Eva Wozniak, states “Current and prospective BU students are considering a gap semester if fall classes are exclusively online. BU currently plans to return to campus for the fall semester, and the provost is looking at many possible scenarios according to BU media relations.” This has been a huge topic of discussion amongst students at Bloomsburg University.  A lot are questioning their future and how they would like to go about completing their degrees. 

Find article here:

Eva asked classmates what they would do if Bloomsburg University continued online instruction.  This inspired me to see what peers I am close to had to say. The question I asked was “If Bloomsburg went online for Fall 2020, would you take a semester off? Why or why not?” In one of my interviews, the interviewee said “No, probably not because I will be a senior and so close to finishing. There wouldn’t be a point to take the semester or year off. I would miss my friends and the atmosphere if it went online, but I am so close to being done”. Another interviewee said “If Bloomsburg was to go online I wouldn’t take a semester off because I wouldn’t want to fall behind. As much as it would stink doing classes from home again, I rather do that than waster a whole semester doing nothing”. Another interviewee had similar thoughts and stated “I would have to say no. Granted I dislike online learning because I feel like I’m not retaining much. Sitting in front of a computer screen just doesn’t work for me because I get really sidetracked. But I would not take a semester off only because I want to graduate on time and I want to stay on track. If I did, it would push me back so much”.

Although these interviewees had similar opinions, this one did not. They stated “I personally have been taking a lot of time considering my option in the fall.  I really do think if they said the whole semester were to go online I would take a semester off. Mainly because it is my last semester of classes but also because I really do feel it alters my educational experience and I’m just not learning as in depth as I would be face to face. Also I’m only a year away from graduating. I feel I would slightly be at a disadvantage when applying to jobs. Other people have had all four years of face to face classes because when it came down to it I kind of was just teaching myself and going through the motions online this half of the semester.” I took a poll to see what others would do as well.

Higher Ed needs to consider their options carefully because there’s a lot at risk for all students and parties involved if they do decide to do full online learning again. 

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