The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday July 6th

Students look ahead to the rest of the online semester — with no breaks

DTH Photo Illustration. A student sits at their desk with their head down in frustration.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. A student sits at their desk with their head down in frustration.

As students grapple with a semester with no breaks until after exams, many are facing the struggles of studying and learning all online. 

In accordance with the University's Roadmap to Fall 2020, the semester started early and with fewer breaks built in — leaving many students feeling stressed and rushed through their courses. 

A rushed feeling

Ronik Grewal, a first-year information science major, said that he feels like he is having to teach the material himself. 

“I feel like the teachers are not even teachers anymore,” Grewal said. “They are just telling us what to do, and then we just learn from YouTube videos.” 

He said that without any more breaks for students this semester, he feels like school is more stressful. For Grewal, breaks lead to better academic outcomes, because he can pace himself and take time to get organized. 

“Every day we have new content,” Grewal said. “Every day there is a new lesson and new homework, so I definitely feel rushed.” 

An additional stressor is the adjustment to new grading policies, he said. 

“I wish the grading would be more lenient given that we're in the middle of a pandemic,” Grewal said. “Especially for freshmen, since it is our first year adjusting to college, and they’re still grading with no regards to the circumstances, it feels like.” 

'Not enough time'

Marisue Peralta Macias, a first-year medical anthropology major, said she feels more stressed due to online classes. 

“It’s really sad that I can’t hang out with my friends or interact with professors in person,” Macias said. 

Macias said it feels like there is not enough time to get work done, so she always feels behind.

"I know we have 24 hours in a day, but it is still not enough time," she said. 

But Macias said she has had a positive experience with professors who have been very understanding. 

“I had to learn how to use the website Sakai,” Macias said. “It was my first time using it, and one of my professors told me it was their first time using it as well. We are both learning, and we are both growing.” 

She said she hopes next semester will be back to normal so that she can have the whole college experience. 

“I thought first semester was going to be the semester to remember, and yes, this is definitely the semester I will remember for the rest of my life,” Macias said. 

Adjusting to virtual

Abby Burns, a sophomore history and film studies major, said that she does not have the motivation to do as much work as she would if her classes were in person. 

“It’s so much easier to pay attention in class when it is in person,” Burns said “So that has really affected how I study and comprehend what is going on in lectures.” 

Geetha Vaidyanathan, a professor in the economics department, said she has aimed to be very flexible and lenient to help her students this semester. 

“I’m dropping three homework grades out of eight,” she said. “Then, when the University canceled classes Monday and Tuesday the third week, I decided to drop two out of ten grades from the reviews, which are like quizzes.” 

Additionally, Vaidyanathan says that while she has been teaching synchronously, she records videos for students who can’t always meet. 

“I have prepared a lot of short videos for students to learn at their own free time and pace,” she said. 

Vaidyanathan also said that not having breaks this semester has not only impacted students.

“Not having this break, or any break, has made it hard for both students and teachers as well,” she said. “There is no pause to catch up.”

And when students have asked for extensions, Vaidyanathan said she has been very understanding for students this semester.

“I really feel for the students, and I feel for the teachers, my colleagues,” Vaidyanathan said. “It is hard for everybody. These are really rough times, and I know that many of my colleagues are very accommodating.”

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