School During COVID-19: Advice for students who think they are missing out
While I was back in school with my friend, I met a student in his penultimate year. Majoring in Finance, he is currently working for one of Singapore’s investment firms as an analyst. Interestingly, we hit it off well and discussed our school experience.
As we talked about each other’s time in school, he explained how the entire pandemic ruined his student life, which he longed for when he was still in the army. When he heard his friends talking about school life, he was really excited about what the school would offer. Nevertheless, the pandemic that struck in early 2020 brought an abrupt end to his school life.
As I recalled the days when my classes were remotely delivered through Zoom, I had a hard time adapting to it since my school is known for having class discussions in a seminar format. So I remembered we were constantly being grouped and put into “break-out” rooms and self-facilitated our own discussions with our classmates.
As awkward as it might sound, many didn’t turn on their cameras and we were literally speaking to a void. We did not feel it was as conducive to learning as in-class lessons, which made learning less enjoyable.
As social beings, having virtual classes did not encourage interaction between students in courses, and we simply glued our eyes to screens while attending lectures in isolation. Even though we could communicate with our classmates, typing in chats made me feel that I needed a reason to talk until I could initiate a conversation.
I felt I had to overcome that mental barrier by myself in a virtual class, which affected my learning experience, especially with no company and minimal interactions with my classmates. We no longer have those little windows between lessons where we could exchange ideas that would reinforce our learning. No more 15 minutes of break for grabbing a quick bite or chatting with friends.
Though it was convenient to get to the next class by clicking a button, it was rather disappointing to experience school differently. The after-school events, in-person seminars, and daily commutes were the little things we could look forward to as we recall our vibrant school life before COVID-19. Maybe the only constant is to study in the library while adhering to the capacity limit.
During a conversation with a teammate who was a freshman, she told me that COVID-19 disrupted orientation camps, school activities, and in-person classes; they had to attend their first day of school at home. Although it was inevitable, it robbed them of the freshmen experience they were supposed to have. Since they didn’t get to meet their peers in person, it was rather hard to make a good impression virtually.
While everything is bound to happen, I believe humans are highly adaptable creatures who can survive in all sorts of circumstances. If school is no longer a social place for interacting with people in person, then can we still get that same experience virtually? Are there other ways we can enhance our learning experience in the post-pandemic world?
I think we would have to adapt and be open to more learning methods. One day, more classes might be held entirely virtual, without requiring students to meet in person for full immersion in the learning process. It might not even be an option for students to meet in person because they may prefer to meet in their own virtual world as their digital avatars.
However, this kind of technology is a long way off from becoming a reality anytime soon. Virtual learning, however, was made possible by the pandemic and could be expedited in a matter of months. Although many students may feel they are missing out on their school life by going overseas, I think they have just experienced a first-hand revolution in how education could be delivered differently, something that was typically not possible in the classroom setting for decades.
Although we couldn’t turn back time to enjoy those times, we can still find joy in doing other things as well. You can use this time to reflect on your school experience and make plans to make it even more enjoyable, such as taking on a new project with a few friends.
You can also check out some virtual events to learn more about school activities, which I thought the student leaders did well despite being restricted to certain activities. Even with the current restrictions, virtual socializing can still be incredibly fun and engaging.
While I wish we will return to “normal” soon and resume school as if nothing happened, it will take some time before it can be fully reverted. So for those affected by the pandemic, I hope you can find ways to enhance your experience in school and not let this be the main reason for not being fully involved.
About The Author:
Vince Law is an Accountancy graduate from Singapore Management University. Having a keen eye for numbers and a bent for problem-solving, he is currently working as a business consultant at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms, focusing on both consulting and assurance. During his free time, he writes on topics related to personal development and current affairs through his lens.
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