More than a year after COVID-19 forced schools to switch to alternative learning methods, post-secondary institutions in the city are preparing for the return to in-person learning, a move prompting mixed feelings from students about what going back to campus will look like.
The exact details on how students return still remain unclear — whether masks or social distancing other restrictions are required — as most universities are still working out plans for what coming back to campus will look like.
Both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary have announced the majority of classes will be back in person with a select few remaining in an online format.
Garrett Li, a fourth-year student at the University of Calgary, said he personally does better in person and is excited to be back on campus this upcoming year.
“Just being alone and away from people and studying by myself is just, personally, very detrimental to not really my grades, but more so my mental health,” said Li.
Li added he looks forward to seeing people again, being able to talk to professors face to face, and the overall campus atmosphere.
Aidan Warren, a first-year student at SAIT, is also looking forward to in-person interactions.
“Spending more time with classmates. That’s like a big thing for me in school, I like to connect with my peers, talk to them and get to know them,” he said.
Warren, who is studying film and video production, says online learning has been difficult because he feels as if he isn’t actually learning the material he’s been taught. Everything, including lectures, just feels like homework, he said.
With certain programs, like Warren’s, being more hands on, some students have found this year much more challenging.
Students have also said that they understand the toll online learning has taken on their professors too, but that the teaching style between online and in person is very different.
“Everyone is a stranger, including the teacher,” said Warren.
Jaymee McClelland, a student currently taking a two-year diploma at Bow Valley College to become a licensed practical nurse, said it’s been hard to find motivation because she’s not working hands on, like they would if classes were in person, and she can’t connect with her peers.
“To have that interaction with other students that helps you learn as well right? Because at home you’re kind of isolated. You can maybe make a small chat or whatever but you don’t know what these people look like or how they are,” said McClelland.
McClelland withdrew from more classes than ever before over the past year because of online learning.
While there were disadvantages of online learning, some students said there also were many positives they will miss.
Karina Leung, a second-year psychology major at Mount Royal University, said she is pretty nervous about going back and the potential impacts on both her schooling and personal life.
Leung said online has been amazing for her. Not being on campus has allowed her to worry less about getting up as early, getting ready and commuting, enabling her to work more hours and spend more time at home with her dog.
“I am kind of worried that my grades are going to slip and I’m not used to, you know, like that in person setting,” said Leung.
Despite that, she’s eager to see people in real life again.
“But I also am excited to see everyone’s face again and studying at the library and all of that.”