Over load: After demands of distance learning take toll, students contemplate adjusting schedules

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Malcolm Taylor

Long hours behind a computer screen leave some students overwhelmed with their courseloads.

Grace Holleb, Health and Wellness Editor

After a busy school day, senior Kendall Clark used to walk across campus to the Regenstein Library, find a comfy seat or conference room with friends, open up her backpack and begin homework and socializing. Now, she finishes her distance learning classes in her bedroom and rarely moves from her desk, sometimes for more than two hours as she completes her homework. This pattern has continued since the start of the school year and has made it difficult to find time for anything other than school work. 

Students say long hours behind a computer screen coupled with feelings of isolation are causing them to feel overwhelmed with their course work. Some are finding it difficult to manage and adjust their schedules accordingly. Others find the pressure to perform to a certain level increasingly stressful with insufficient time for breaks. 

School counselor Camille Baughn-Cunningham has seen a significant increase in stress surrounding course load. 

“We certainly have been hearing, particularly in these past two weeks, students are certainly concerned with their workload,” Ms. Baughn-Cunningham said.  

Kendall is one of these students, and she thought it was best to drop her Cosmology class after three weeks. 

“I was taking two science classes and all my other classes and college applications,” Kendall said. “When I signed up for these classes, I thought I was going to be taking them in person. Cosmology is a college-level class and a lot of memorization. For me, I didn’t think I could learn it if I wasn’t in a classroom.” 

Veronica Godina was contemplating dropping a course but as a senior wanted to continue putting her best foot forward academically for college applications. 

“Honestly, I don’t want to do it with college right behind the corner.” she said. “Right now, you want to still seem like you can handle the rigorous course load.” 

Veronica currently has COVID-19 and is finding it just as difficult to manage classes.

For Veronica, remote learning and homework assignments are frustrating and tiring. From the moment an assignment is assigned, she feels the need to finish it as soon as possible.

“It’s a never-ending cycle,” Veronica said. “I always feel in a panic if I don’t have things done a couple days before it’s due because there are no breaks.” 

When students believe the workload in a class is too much to handle, Ms. Baughn- Cunningham said she hopes students feel comfortable talking directly with their teachers. 

“I want there to be that ability to dialogue with a teacher about their experience,” Ms. Baughn-Cunningham said. “This is new to faculty, too, and they’re trying their best, but student feedback is very important.”

If a student is feeling overwhelmed with work, counselors are there as another outlet, and help in the process of dropping a course. 

“When it comes down to what a student is experiencing,” Ms. Bughn-Cunningham said, “I want to take their word and I want to hear what they are experiencing and ask them about their workload in every class.” 

Kendall hopes that teachers understand the other responsibilities in students’ lives at this time. 

“Especially right now, teachers are assigning a lot of homework,” Kendall said. “I know they might not realize it, but I want them to be considerate of what we’re going through with the college process and mental health.”

Ms. Baughn-Cunningham wants to be a representative for students by listening to their concerns and finding solutions. 

“Counselors have always been a voice for students such that if we’re hearing that a lot of students in a specific class are really feeling overwhelmed, we’re trying to channel that back into the teacher and department,” Ms. Baughn-Cunningham said. 

Even though I’m ridiculously tired after everything, there’s just this short moment of time where I am happy that I finished everything. But it goes away very quickly, and I have to keep going.”

— Veronica Godina

To try to get students’ voices across, Kendall said all teachers should have anonymous surveys and open conversations about what is working and what is not.

“I hope what comes across to teachers is that this is not a normal time, and we’re trying our best,” Kendall said, “but I really don’t think that the same expectations can be given in remote class as there were in school.” 

After Veronica is done with Zoom classes, she feels a small sense of satisfaction. 

“Even though I’m ridiculously tired after everything, there’s just this short moment of time where I am happy that I finished everything,” Veronica said. “But it goes away very quickly, and I have to keep going.”