Asynchronous classes allow students flexibility at the cost of self-discipline.
Following the disastrous transition to online learning, students returning this fall express concern about the quality of their college experience moving forward.
Matthew Moretti is a botany major at Humboldt State University. Moretti took spring semester off after a particularly challenging fall but decided to return because he felt it was his only option in the pandemic.
“If there’s any time to rush through the rest of college, I feel that online courses are in a way easier, even if they have their unique challenges to them,” Moretti said. “I think the asynchronous classes are particularly difficult and I need to have a lot more self-discipline than I think I have any other semester before.”
Moretti’s biggest gripe with online learning is missing out on the practical knowledge that comes with the hands-on experience of lab classes. He’s delaying as many labs as possible, in hopes they’ll be held in-person in the near future. Unfortunately, Moretti couldn’t avoid taking an online entomology, study of insects, lab this semester.
“We will not be able to collect or curate insects,” Moretti said. “Which I feel is a real disservice to really understanding the ins and outs of the insect properly. You lose a lot without being in person.”
Chris Bignery, HSU wildlife major, plans to become a herpetologist, working with amphibians and reptiles. His online lab means missing out on educational field trips and important labs with species samples, but he couldn’t risk losing his spot.
“It’s the class I’ve been waiting for, for three years,” Bignery said.
Bignery came down from Oregon to live on campus this semester because he loves Humboldt’s redwood forests, beaches and small cities. Although claiming the county has everything he needs, Bignery described his life on campus this semester much more bleakly.
“It’s like a prison,” Bignery said. “It’s very lonely.”
Sara White, environmental studies major, enrolled in two classes that were moved online at the last minute. Regardless, she’s carrying a positive attitude into the semester.
“Honestly, I’m really excited, I like all of my classes so far,” White said. “I mean, I wish that things were different obviously but I’m still happy to be here.”
White was attending community college last semester and like other students was forced to convert to online learning mid-semester. Her only concerns are the three asynchronous classes she’s signed up for.
“I feel like it’s a little bit harder to keep track of things,” White said. “I think that’s true of being online in general. It feels like things can get lost in the void.”
Drake Woosley, HSU mathematics major, believes asynchronous classes are much more efficient because he doesn’t have access to an internet connection at home, so he has to walk to campus every time he has class. He feels, generally speaking, there’s a lot less being covered this semester than in normal circumstances and the tuition should reflect that.
“It’s an online school, it shouldn’t be the same tuition. That’s kinda ridiculous,” Woosley said. “There’s almost nothing— no facilities are open. You’re not getting anything other than the accredited university online degree.”