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Local faculty and students find new, long-term methods amid mostly virtual semester

Faculty found new virtual options that are worth keeping
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 10:50 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - With the Fall semester coming to a close for many colleges and universities across the country, many are deeming this semester a success for many reasons.

“I think we’re all just pretty proud of ourselves for how well we’ve done students, staff, and faculty alike,” Saint Ambrose University Director of Advising Jill Beinborn said.

“The really miraculous thing is that our students have hung in there and have been able to go with the flow of what’s happening right in the community,” Muscatine Community College President Noami DeWinter said.

“My definition of success at least, and this sounds really cheesy, but try my absolute hardest because I can’t do much more than that,” Rice University student Keshav Wagle said.

However, the challenges are still there, some even presented themselves immediately.

“One of the things we noticed at first and this was troubling for all of us was that we did not have as many adult students enrolled in the fall semester,” DeWinter said.

“As a parent, I think you couldn’t really commit to your own class schedule with the uncertainty of your child’s schedule,” she continued.

For Bettendorf resident Keshav Wagle, who attended the Houston-based Rice University entirely remotely this semester, it was difficult to stay focused.

“I find my mind wandering in class a lot more, rather looking at a screen online, it’s very easy to switch tabs into YouTube or something and watch that, or Netflix,” he said. “Rather than in class, you can check your phone but at the end of the day you’re in class with 200 other people and they can see you.”

There was also an emotional impact as well.

“Getting rid of that social part of college is kind of just the worst,” he said.

There’s also concern that graduate schools may not be as lenient to students whose grades may have dropped during the pandemic.

“I would hope that there would be some consideration for what these students have had to live through while trying to go to college and earn the best grades they can for a graduate program,” Beinborn said.

Beinborn also said that SAU and other undergrad programs across the country are expected to be more lenient with incoming students and their grades.

Despite all the challenges, Beinborn and others have found many positives to take with them post-COVID, including more virtual resources.

“Honestly, we kind of like the virtual appointments we feel like students are a little bit maybe more comfortable in their own environments and it’s a little less formal for them,” she said.

“We’re talking about next Summer doing our orientations for our first year students, maybe not the entire orientation but the advising portion of the orientation and doing that virtually again,” she continued.

Wagle also enjoyed the virtual meetings at Rice, especially to save them as notes as he works towards medical school.

“Because you can record that TA (teacher’s assistant) session and then you can go back and look rather than just ‘oh, I forgot how they explained it,’ that’s something that’s really nice,” he said.

He also hopes for more virtual attendance options who may be out sick.

“I remember in high school they pushed for people to go to school like ‘oh, have less than five absences’ or whatever, but at the end of COVID, I guarantee they’re not going to be pushing that anymore because if you’re sick, you should stay home,” he said. “And for those people who are staying home, instead of having just ‘oh shoot, I’m going to miss class today and rely on someone else to explain it to me’ they’ll have the virtual option.”

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