“We’re all alone,” Andrade said.
CollegeData — which provides demographic information of higher education institutions through the National Association for College Admission Counseling — says seven percent of classes at UNC have more than 100 students enrolled.
However, it’s unclear which academic year that percentage is referring to.
UNC Media Relations has not provided an exact number of classes at UNC that have more than 100 students in attendance this semester at the time of publication because the records are not “readily available.”
Some students in larger course sections have turned to class GroupMe chats to stay up to date on class assignments and ask their peers questions.
Andrade, who is part of a group chat with students from his class, said it doesn’t compare to talking to his classmates in-person.
Inside the classroom, professors have also used breakout rooms on Zoom to separate students into smaller groups to work through assignments and questions that relate to the material.
First-year computer science major Gargi Dixit said her General Descriptive Chemistry I class with more than 400 students enrolled is split into breakout rooms with five students each.
She said the rooms allow her to work through difficult calculations and questions in a more intimate format.
“If everyone started asking their questions, it would be chaos,” Dixit said. “The breakout rooms are good for that. It’s easier to work with your peers and to get feedback on how you're solving a problem.”
Rita Balaban, who teaches more than 500 students during her Introduction to Economics class three times a week, said the method has helped her students work through difficult economics questions among each other and form virtual connections with peers.
“I love when we have the actual class and students go into breakout rooms, and I get to go in there and answer their questions,” Balaban said. “In fact, that probably works better in a remote environment than when I'm in a live class environment because I'm interacting with more students than I normally would.”
She said virtual classes have made it harder for students in her class to grow accustomed to being in college, noting that attendance had dropped from 80-85 percent in previous semesters to around 20 percent in recent weeks.
She attributes the drop to the fact that students often skip class lectures during midterm season, but said that difficult circumstances at home brought on by the pandemic can make it difficult to stay focused and motivated in classes.
“I know it's hard for the students,” Balaban said. “They’re not quite getting the direct direction that they need, the direct interaction that they need. It's really tough.”