Four Takeaways from Six Students About Their Upcoming COVID Fall Semester

by Haleigh Cadd | August 11, 2020
Four Takeaways from Six Students About Their Upcoming COVID Fall Semester

Four Takeaways from Six Students About Their Upcoming COVID Fall Semester

Recently, Signal Vine hosted students from six different schools on a webinar. The purpose of this webinar was to talk about their perspectives on their upcoming COVID fall semester. More specifically, this student panel gave their views on certain aspects of what they experienced in the spring. Also, Signal Vine asked what they think schools could do differently in their COVID fall semester.

As a rising senior, I participated in the panel discussion. I heard many things from the other students on the panel that rang true. In addition to the upcoming COVID fall semester, we went over what challenges we’re facing in the COVID era. This includes our ever-changing summer activities that were altered due to COVID.

Below are four pieces of advice from the panelists that can help higher education pros prepare for this COVID fall semester.

Encourage flexibility to promote successful online learning

Firstly, our moderator, Jesse Boeding, asked us about our spring semester and summer. Out of all six students, three of us took summer courses online and two of us took up internships. Additionally, one student gave her free time to raising public awareness for different facets of social justice. 

Three panelists noted that the spring and summer required adaptability. In other words, if our original summer plans didn’t work out, we pivoted. For example, we invested our time into other things that allowed us to develop our skills. That is, if our first summer opportunity preference didn't work out. 

Two students, Madeline Tran and Alexis Glasgow, spoke to how their COVID summers didn't resemble normalcy. Instead, they each devoted their minds and purpose to their pursuits, regardless. Joao Okamoto, a student who currently lives in Brazil, relocated there to live with his family. He used his time to take summer courses. 

Help students outline their goals to stay motivated during their COVID fall semester

Secondly, Jesse asked the student panel about our posthumous thoughts towards the spring. More specifically, we discussed what we thought about online classes. 

In essence, it seems like the key to online learning is being goal-oriented. For example, figuring out how to both finish a degree at any college and learn fully online is a new experience for all of us. So, we had to have a goal in mind to stay self-motivated at home. 

COVID fall semester

Both Joao and Madeline pointed out how they both had to work around challenges. They each mentioned that by connecting with their advisors, they were able to ensure that they were receiving important information. I pointed out later in the discussion how I kept in contact with my professor mentor by texting her every so often to set up virtual one-on-ones. 

Encourage consistent communication between students, professors, and advisors

Alexis mentioned that one thing that professors could do to boost successful online learning is to communicate effectively with their students. Also, Carlee Lehmkuhl, a student pursuing a career in teaching, mentioned how online learning would be less painful for all involved if professors and students more consistently communicated with each other. 

Carlee also noted that this situation surrounding student finances could seem far less stressful if the line of communication between her school’s financial aid office and her was more open. Professors and advisors alike should check in and get feedback from students to ensure clear and open communication. 

Students’ advice to administrators for a COVID fall semester

Towards the end of the webinar, Jesse asked each of us what advice we would give to school administrators for the upcoming COVID fall semester. Rachel Beyer and Joao emphasized that they prefer transparent and clear information. 

In the context of the discussion, I believe what Rachel and Joao meant by transparency is that in a time where frustration is easily justified – with rules restricting and disrupting a student’s typical, daily life – frankness and an explanation of a school’s decision would not be unwelcome. What I took from Joao’s piece of advice in the way of clarity was that schools should be clear with their communications. This enables students to grasp what is expected of them. 

Both Alexis and Carlee brought up the idea that schools should include students in the decision-making process. In this way, schools will be able to make it more clear that student voices are being heard during the COVID fall semester. 

Learn more

For more on student advice to school administrators, read an additional student's perspective blog here. Also, you can check out our COVID Communications Toolkit to help your school plan for the COVID fall semester. 

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