Some students, like Nish Rajkanth, currently live in their children’s rooms rather than in a cramped dormitory. Rajkanth, who currently lives in South Brunswick, New Jersey, said that sometimes it feels like she’s back in high school when she’s attending college classes from home.
“It’s a different lifestyle that often feels like going back to high school instead of being a student,” said Rajkanth, a junior major in life sciences. “But I think I got the hang of it now and it has been helpful in a number of ways.”
Rajkanth is one of many Pitt students who chose to take their home lessons the new [email protected] Lesson modelThis enables students to experience the lesson “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously”. This model will continue in the spring semester, if the COVID-19 pandemic continues and spring has an adjusted schedule.
Rajkanth said she was initially disappointed after deciding to stay home, but had other concerns about returning to campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It seemed like a rip off because I wouldn’t be able to get a decent college experience, but I was expected to pay full tuition,” said Rajkanth. “I’m a very anxious person and I think that being on campus would have made me extremely paranoid if I’d been exposed to the coronavirus.”
The university had 311 students and 32 employees test positive As of June 26, 295 students and 31 staff have recovered so far. No new positive cases have been detected in any of the past seven days, according to Pitt.
Rajkanth added that it was also difficult to get in touch with students in the South Brunswick area.
“On a city campus, you’re a five-minute walk from meeting your friends,” said Rajkanth. “When you are at home and live in the suburbs, seeing your friends very often is not that accessible.”
Pranavi Indukuri, a sophomore political scientist, also takes classes in her bedroom in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes west of Harrisburg. Indukuri said that since she could complete her courses and research remotely, she saw no point in going to campus, although initially she was uncomfortable with the decision.
“My parents and I discussed this and decided that staying home was the best decision for me,” said Indukuri. “At first I was a bit dubious because I didn’t really like Zoom in the spring semester.”
Indukuri said problems she faced during the spring semester contributed to her reluctance to decide to stay home.
“I had trouble getting in touch with teachers in the spring semester,” said Indukuri. “I wasn’t sure if I could prepare for it.”
Other students live in a completely different time zone, like Zhen Wu, a sophomore computer science student who lives in China. Wu said she believed it was right for her to stay home despite concerns about the time difference.
“At first I felt I was better off,” said Wu. “But when I thought about the time zone difference, I got quite stressed.”
For students living at home, lack of interaction with friends is one of the greatest challenges. Many students rely on virtual contacts through clubs or other organizations.
Wu said two organizations she is a part of – the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Lambda Sigma Honor Society – frequently hold virtual social events and general meetings. Wu said the virtual activities are a way to meet new people while they are living at home.
“We have social events online and GBM often,” said Wu. “Playing games and discussing schoolwork are great ways to build relationships.”
Pitt Program Council Also offers virtual events for students to socialize and stay connected. Danielle Moss, Public Relations Director at PPC, said all Pitt Program Council events such as concerts, lectures, game nights, bingo nights and craft workshops are designed for every student, regardless of where they live.
“We remember that people are not on campus,” said Moss, a senior major in neuroscience. “We make sure that all of our events can be held remotely.”
Although the Pitt Program Council offers these events, not all students are aware they exist, according to Moss. She added that in previous years, students gained interest in events by seeing flyers on campus or through other events.
“It has been difficult to reach freshmen and students who are at home,” Moss said. “If they haven’t already followed us on social media, we had to try and go to them.”
Aside from struggling to interact with their peers, some students said it was also difficult to connect with professors at home. Due to the 12-hour time difference between Pittsburgh and her home in China, Wu said she often struggles to email her professors and visit office hours as they usually occur late at night in her time zone.
“Due to the time zone difference, communications may take days to resolve issues,” said Wu.
Wu said while the time zone difference has its setbacks, it does have certain benefits, such as the extra time it takes to finish her job.
“I like to finish my job in advance,” said Wu. “I have 12 extra hours to do my job.”
Rajkanth also said that she had found certain advantages through this style of learning, such as a more focused academic environment at home because she couldn’t see her friends.
“It helps me focus on my work instead of being very easily distracted by being with my friends all the time,” said Rajkanth. “Personally, I get a lot of social anxiety, and being at home helped me not feel so anxious.”
Rajkanth added that while the unexpected nature of taking college classes from her childhood home had its barriers, she still tries to get the most out of the situation.
“It is definitely not what I expected so there is some disappointment with it,” said Rajkanth. “But I tried to make the best of it because it is a privilege to have access to education in the first place.”