Santerrius Barlow, a graduate student at Xavier University of Louisiana majoring in mental health counseling, sits inside Xavier South. Barlow is from Griffin, Georgia, and is on Xavier’s track and field team. This semester, Barlow has been taking online classes and lives off-campus at the Hilton Riverside hotel.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020, for the past two semesters, students at Xavier University of Louisiana have been trying to adjust to online learning and a new college environment.
Students shared they had a fear of the unknown and did not know what the new changes would bring.
A group of students provided insight on their experiences while being in university during a global pandemic. While some students attended classes in person, with masks and socially distanced, a large number of students remained at home taking classes fully online. During these unexpected times, they’ve experienced challenges academically and socially.
“Zoom classes make it hard to stay focused,” Phuong Huynh said. Diem Phuong Huynh is a senior majoring in biology at the Xavier University of Louisiana. She resides in New Orleans with her parents and has been taking online classes from home for the past two semesters.
“Professors are making my learning experience difficult with online quizzes, tests, and insane due dates,” she said.
COVID-19 has affected all classes, from freshman to graduate students. Even though online learning is the safest option, the college experience has been anything but normal for many students. They have dealt with a major change when it comes to social interaction.
“It is hard not being able to develop those relationships with my classmates and professors,” said Santerrius Barlow, a graduate student at Xavier.
Barlow who is working towards a master’s degree in mental health counseling is from Griffin, Georgia, and resides at the Hilton Riverside hotel, which is part of XULA 2020-2021 housing.
Barlow said that he has experienced a hindrance in the social aspect of college life. He said that the change in social interaction has been a downside.
“As a student-athlete, it’s been difficult to not be able to have team bonding,” Barlow said. “I wish we could go out as a team like we used to.”
Students are not alone in the adjustment of online classes. Shael Wolfson, who holds a Ph.D. in Financial Economics and is an assistant professor in the Business department at Xavier, explained the challenges that have formed when it comes to student and professor interaction.
“It has been a bit of learning in regard to how to communicate with one another,” Wolfson said. “You have to set up boundaries for when to respond to emails.”
Communication between students and professors has been one of the most difficult changes. However, since the fall semester, it has seen a bit of improvement.
“I think we are all getting better at it,” Wolfson said. “As far as Zoom has taken hold, we are all a bit more comfortable doing things online now.”
Although this global change has produced many challenges, there are upsides academic-wise.
Barlow said he likes to be able to complete assignments, readings, and quizzes on his own time. He said it is great to have all assignments and test dates ahead of time.
“I like being able to work at my own pace and having all the due dates helps me stay ahead,” Barlow said.
Despite the changes at Xavier due to COVID-19, students and faculty are learning to accept the new form of education.
“It has been a tough time, but I think the students are strong-willed enough to get through it,” Wolfson said.