By Finn Halloran and Elly Murray
Across the country, schools have moved their classes online due to the outbreak of Covid – 19, commonly known as the Coronavirus. In Boone, North Carolina, students at Appalachian State University are adapting to the new online method of learning.
Hannah Nixon, a graduate student studying education, prefers in-person to online classes, but has not felt much of a change.
“I was in a fully online program beforehand, so the only thing it’s really done is made on-campus accessibility even less realistic,” Nixon said.
That being said, adapting to this sudden change has been tough on others.
“I’ve never been one to take online classes and now that it’s all online, it’s so bad. I don’t think I’ve attended a lecture in like a week,” chemistry major Joshua Bartlett said. “I’m not learning anything. I’m not learning anything at all.”
Hannah Leaven, a religious studies major, was slightly more positive.
“It hasn’t been the worst but I do feel like it’s negatively impacted the way that I learn, like my efficiency at learning,” Leaven said, “because I had a system down that was really working for me and then it all just got thrown in the trash really fast.”
James Hopkins, who studies finance, is missing the social connections.
“I’m really sad to not see my professors or classmates again. Since I’m graduating, the chance to build relationships with them is basically over,” Hopkins said. “It makes me unenthusiastic about finishing my classes strong.”
Students are also dealing with the financial fallout of the virus. Many have lost jobs and are struggling to find work.
Dani Ramkissoon, who studies English, lost her job at McAlister’s Deli on campus, and has had to move back home.
“I’m currently living at home and still paying rent on a house I don’t live in,” Ramkisson said.
Appalachian State University has issued refunds on housing and meal plan money, but some students believe that they are paying a lot of money and not receiving much in return.
“Even if it’s just partial refunds or even if it’s vouchers for credits in the future, just because the change from students who paid their money to be in-person to students who are going online now, the difference in tuition costs between that is absurd,” said Nixon. “As someone who has seen it firsthand from going to online classes for my program, the tuition costs are insanely different.”
Christian Hall, a graduate student studying experimental psychology, took the other side.
“I think prorated refunds for some things are important, but I think people wanting a break financially because of the switch don’t think about the other side so much,” Hall said.
One of the other impacts of COVID-19 is displacement. Some students have returned to their families, removing them from their daily routines. Other students are unable to return to their families, due to health and other concerns.
Megan Aeschleman, another graduate student studying education, is still living close to the Appalachian State University campus, but is afraid to travel home to Chicago.
“Since the CDC recommended that people only fly when totally necessary, there isn’t much chance of me getting home anytime soon,” Aeschleman said. “I’m worried about my parents, and it is really hurting my focus on these online classes.”
Graduation has been changed to a virtual setting, and this leaves seniors without the formal recognition for years of work.
“If you come from a place where you’ve never had family who has graduated or it’s really important that you graduate, I think it’s important to celebrate those things,” said Hall.
Alex McDonald, a Business major, had already purchased his cap and gown before the cancellation of the in-person ceremony.
“I already bought my cap and gown and now they will go to waste. I’m almost angry,” McDonald said. “My parents had an Airbnb up here and they had to cancel and they were almost more distraught than me.”
This pandemic affects everyone, and although social distancing separates us we are still a community.
“We like to be very anti-cooperation, anti-establishment, especially in college-age young folks but everybody’s kind of going through this together,” Hall said.