If you could tell your professors anything about this semester, what would you say? We asked, you answered

A man buries his face in his hands as he sits in front of his computer screen in a dark room.
When asked what they wish their professors knew, students described feeling overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and drained. (Courtesy: Pxfuel)

Remote classes have removed the ability to easily check in with students in person after class. Candid conversation is much more difficult, and professors might not even see students during class due to screen sharing or the camera off setting. 

To attempt to recreate a space for candid and honest conversation, TSL asked students via Google Forms what they would want to share with their professors right now about how they are doing now, seven weeks into the remote semester. 

Students were asked, “If you had a chance to talk candidly with your professors about how the remote semester is going for you and your peers, what would you say?” 

In response, students wrote about being overwhelmed, lacking sleep and feeling alone. While these feelings are not new to the college experience, the frequent mentions paint the picture that while Zoom classes may be functioning on the surface, many students are struggling to thrive in a remote environment.

“I don’t remember the last time I was this mentally and physically exhausted.”

“I don’t remember the last time I was this mentally and physically exhausted. I barely get enough sleep during the night due to all the assignments and exams in addition to graduate school applications I have to worry about. I think in an online semester I am getting even more work with less breaks and leniency, and I am super stressed out and tired. I was not expecting my senior year to be like this, especially when I have no in-person communication or outlets to re-energize myself for a new day.” — J.S. PO 21 

“I am so overwhelmed with the workload.”

“I am so overwhelmed with the workload. I’m working three jobs, trying to stay in athletic shape for a sports season that may not happen this year and living in tight quarters with six people under one roof. The amount of homework, projects and studying for midterms has me putting my physical/mental well-being last on my list. And that leads to fighting at home which just makes me feel more alone.” — Student SC 23

“I’m trying my best. I know you are too.”

“I’m trying my best. I know you are too. I struggle with anxiety and OCD, and this semester has been rough, to say the least. With assignments and workloads, please be mindful that many of us are struggling to keep up with our usual work capacity. I’m sure many of you feel the same way as well. Please be safe and be compassionate, understanding and accommodating with your students. I appreciate all of your hard work as professors, but [it’s] good for professors to pull back on workloads a bit to accommodate the unique situations students are facing right now. Otherwise, I am endlessly thankful for the support and understanding professors have given their students, even if they can’t do much to help an individual student’s situation. Sometimes having someone to vent to and show support is what you need.” — Student PZ 22

“Any time I had previously is now consumed.”

“Overall, I am really liking the times we are in class. Seeing folks, even on Zoom, and still being able to have discussions is uplifting. Outside of class, there is definitely more work. Homework and asynchronous lectures run over usual or expected times, and professors seem to forget we have responsibilities to our families if we live at home or have to take care of basic housework tasks living alone. Finding time to run to a grocery store or clean the house is a time commitment. Any time I had previously is now consumed by basic tasks I need to do to live in a clean way.” — Hannah SC 23 

“This semester is brutal for me.”

“Being a Mudder is tough under normal circumstances. The problem sets never end, and there’s a midterm seemingly every three days. This is still true for this semester, yet we now lack so many of the resources we used to succeed back on campus. Any Mudder will tell you how important collaboration is to their academic success, yet we don’t have that anymore — at least not in a comparable form. Zoom meetings are not a suitable replacement for in-person study groups. Discussing complicated mathematical concepts over laggy, low-resolution video conferencing software is not exactly conducive to academic success. For my CS class, it took me well over two hours to get the live share function working with my partner’s computer just so we could start our homework. 

After we were sent home last semester, the professors seemed to understand these issues and adjusted their courses accordingly. Yet this semester, there seems to be much less of that. I have maybe one or two professors who seem aware of these issues with remote learning and shaped their course policies around them, but the others seem to operate as if it were a completely normal semester. This semester is brutal for me. On campus, it would still be, but now I am twice as inefficient with my work, enjoying virtually none of it, and the professors don’t seem to notice. There are often times when there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get all my work done, and having no in-person assistance makes it all the much harder to stay caught-up in my classes.” — Nick Grisanti HM 23

“[I] can’t do anything that makes me happy.”

“I am getting way too much work and can’t do anything that makes me happy. I haven’t been eating and exercising regularly as I wish I would.” — Student PZ 24 

“I feel like I’m falling behind.”

“It’s going really badly. Adjusting to college is very difficult as a freshman when everything is online. I have no motivation, and staying focused in class is almost impossible. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have. Doing work in my room causes me to get distracted easily. I have no friends to study with. I feel like I’m falling behind.” — M.R. PO 24

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