The previous school year was difficult for so many reasons. Due to the pandemic, Brock and many other universities decided to shift all of their classes to an online setting in order to limit large gatherings. This meant that my first year of university was a lot different than I would have expected it to go before the pandemic. Most of the online first-year classes that I had selected were done well, since the school had an entire summer to plan for an online course delivery. Profs and clubs did their best to make students feel involved with the Brock community throughout the year. There were many new skills and tricks that I picked up throughout the virtual school year, and I’m sure that many other students did as well, such as time management skills in a less structured environment and how to use Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
In the fall of 2021, I was able to have my first semester on campus, which was a great experience. Despite this being very exciting and something that I had been looking forward to for a very long time, it came with its own set of challenges. These challenges that came from making the shift back to in-person classes may be different from others, primarily due to me being in second year, so I had no prior university experience to draw from.
The most significant adjustment from going back to in-person classes was having to follow a schedule again, which may not seem like much but took some getting used to after a whole year of asynchronous classes. It is no longer possible to watch lessons or do school work whenever you please; there were classes that needed to be attended. Since so much of one’s day can be spent on campus, there was a big shift in work habits and discipline this first semester in-person, at least for myself. I had to be much more structured in choosing when and where to do all of my assignments in addition to my in-person classes and any extra curricular activities. Creating a schedule, staying organized, and setting aside designated time in between classes to do work is something that I recommend all students to do, especially first- and second-years who are not as accustomed to the university lifestyle.
Focusing in Class
Another substantial adjustment with the return of in-person classes was needing to focus more during lectures, although being in-person has helped this significantly. I’m sure there are many people who were guilty of watching TV or scrolling through social media during online classes, or even not attending. My ability to focus during class was hindered by all of the distractions that I had at home, but the classroom environment of in-person classes allowed me to focus all of my attention on the lectures, since that environment was designed for learning, compared to studying at home which was just a temporary, albeit year-long, setup.
The best part of being back in-person, in my opinion, is being able to participate in on-campus activities and experience what the campus has to offer. Although some things were still partially restricted due to Covid, being able to meet people and get involved has really made this school year much better than the last. Watching Badgers compete in sports against other universities, playing intramurals, and getting involved in clubs have made studying at Brock much more exciting over the past few months. Even something as simple as being able to use the Zone over a home gym makes being on campus that much better.
The main takeaway from this is that although the past year and ten months has been very difficult and that online learning has its own unique pros and cons, it is important to remember to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in-person.
By: Luke O'Brien