When news broke that University of Kentucky students would not be returning back to campus to resume classes for spring semester, the question arose about how students would continue their education. The university announced that all classes would continue for the rest of the semester, but they would be virtual classes. Students were quick to share their thoughts or feelings about this switch.
Anna Hopfensperger, an elementary education major at UK, added how the change in setting has been a hard lesson to learn, and even teach yourself.
"I never really had a hard time doing schoolwork in high school, but I don't think I can evenly compare my high school homework to my college homework. College is hard; even learning the lessons is hard, and I don't think it's fair for the school to grade us on this work when we are basically teaching ourselves," Hopfensperger said.
With much mention of students anxious about making the grades due to this major change in the standard education process, the university has allowed for students to change their grading scale from letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) to pass/fail without affecting their GPA. This means if a student averages a D or higher, they will pass the class. To some students this is a lifesaving move and to others, it is a free pass to try less.
Students at UK have jumped on this opportunity. Parker Cavanaugh, a sophomore biology student, said she found difficulty replicating her in-person experience in an online setting.
"I had to work really hard to make good grades when my classes were in person. I met with my teacher often, and even went to study sessions to make sure I would get good grades. Now, I don't have that; at least, not the same version of that. I've seen how hard school is, and labs are, online. I switched my classes to pass/fail because I just can't learn the same way through a screen and Zoom calls as I can in a classroom or in office hours," Cavanaugh said.
While many students publicize their concerns similar to Hopfensperger and Cavanaugh's, some students are glad to be home from school. Engineering student, Nathan Hudson, describes his experience in non-traditional schooling as relaxing and a chance to work at his own pace.
"I don't know, maybe since I'm pretty laid back, I just like being able to wake up later and do my assignments for the day, then just have free time," Hudson says. "I do think if I could hang out with friends, or at least be in Lexington with friends, online school would feel more like school," Hudson also added.
Like Hudson, people worldwide are facing struggles with not being able to be around friends, or most people in general. It is common at UK for students to gather in the library, dining areas, sorority/fraternity houses, gyms, and even parties. UK is often associated with having a stunning modernized campus and "family" type of feeling around it, making this separation even harder for faculty and students.
When the University of Kentucky postponed in person classes for two weeks, they did so just days before students left for spring break. Several students called this delay in classes their "second spring break." Little did they know, their extended vacation would become their new reality for classes.
This new leap of faith for the education system has created concerns. Some students wonder when schooling will pick up in its normal classroom setting. Others wonder if this historical monument that everyone got through together will become more normalized. No matter what. the university's staff and students are patiently waiting the return on campus.