It has been 276 day since Elgin Community College has held full in-person instruction. Most ECC students have been taking classes remotely since the start of the pandemic, and as some students acknowledge through conversations with Observer reporters, the prolonged challenges of learning from home has affected students in a number of ways.
John Raschke, a second-year student at ECC is pursuing his associates in arts by taking online classes this semester. Raschke notices the fatigue in himself and his fellow students.
“There was never the same excitement in classes, even at the beginning of the semester, but now it’s even worse,” Raschke said. “It’s mostly that students aren’t participating and the teachers are obviously frustrated, but trying to be understanding.”
Riley Keating, a second-year student at ECC who is pursuing an associate degree in arts, believes online courses put more pressure on students than traditional in-person courses.
“I think remote learning lectures are naturally not going to be as effective as if they were in person,” Keating said. “As a result, I feel that to stay caught up with my classes I have to do a lot more self learning than previous semesters.”
Maeve Kearney, a second-year student who is pursuing an associates in sciences, feels overwhelmed with a 17 credit class load this semester. She empathizes with students who understand the difficulties of online education.
“I am definitely turning in more late work this semester than in the past,” Kearney said. “A lot of my teachers have been pretty flexible about it and not marking it down too severely which makes it less stressful for me.”
ECC Professor of English Jason Kane, who also serves as the honors program director, has been teaching at ECC for 19 years and can see changes in students’ behaviors from year to year.
“In some ways I can look at the dip in participation as quite average,” Kane said. “There is always kind of a 10-week slump with students that I feel becomes stronger and stronger every year.”
The malayse students feel extends beyond just academics. Friendships and quality of life have been affected, according to ECC students.
“Mentally, this pandemic has made me isolate myself, and that isolation brought a huge strain on my friendships at first,” said second-year student Emily Wellman.
Stress is a feeling that permeates nearly every conversation Observer report conducted with ECC students.
“It’s not like other things in my life have become any easier as school becomes more stressful,” Keating said. “ I still have to work the same hours a week at my job.”
Even ECC clubs, a source of enjoyment for many students, have been similarly affected.
“Last year, before campus shutdown, I really wanted to get involved around campus,” said second-year student Nathan Prenevost. “I went to club meetings and was looking to apply for a student job. But, now that I have tried to go to a couple PTK, and other club meetings it is not the same. The attendees and club leaders at these meetings seem to be trying to make the best out of a non-optimal situation, but seem to really be struggling.”
As with many colleges, ECC’s spring 2021 semester will be conducted primarily online. Li Schoenherr, a first-year student pursuing the fields of law and civil rights, expressed concerns with the upcoming semester and what it will mean for his academic goals.
“The biggest challenge for me has been retaining my excitement to keep learning,” Schoenherr said. “This year has been heavy and I totally empathize with everyone who has put school on pause or cut back classes or whatever else.”