For the past two years, I’ve been learning hybrid due to the pandemic. All my classes were either taught over Zoom or asynchronous. This past semester, returning to the classroom fully in-person made me excited. I was extremely tired of online classes; I felt that I didn’t learn as much and was anxious to finally experience a real college lecture. I knew that I would learn better in a classroom atmosphere.
However, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to adjust from attending class in my pajamas to walking to my morning. Within the in-person classroom atmosphere, there were big differences in both lectures and time management, but also my test-taking skills and relationships. In-person classes were a wake-up call in terms of my life as a student; they made me realize that I needed to make some changes.
Through online classes, I would either have just have zooms to attend at certain times or asynchronous videos to watch on my schedule. When my in-person classes resumed, a lot of them involved i-clicker questions to count for credit or participation. As a result, it was helpful to read the textbook or watch videos before the class to gain an understanding of the material. Originally, it seemed like a lot of extra work to do. Eventually, I realized that this was helping me gain a better understanding of the material and I didn’t have to study as much when the test occurred.
FROM NIGHT OWL TO MORNING GLORY
Another shift was dealing with was determining the times when I felt productive and wanting to learn. During freshman year, I often found that I was less overwhelmed and more productive at night. As a result, I would finish my work around that time. This year, my classes were mostly in the morning starting around 11 a.m. Also, most of my clubs and activities occurred during the night and were in-person. As a result, I had to learn to be productive during the morning. While I had previously been able to wake up at 6 am for high school, the path to reteaching myself how to be a productive morning person was difficult. I started trying to wake up earlier and creating a morning routine. I’d heard that having a relaxing morning routine made you feel less stressed throughout the day and less overwhelmed to complete tasks. Before I knew it, I had turned from a night owl to a morning person and finished more homework throughout the week because I allowed myself more time.
My studying habits and test preparation also changed due to in-person classes. During freshman year, tests were all online; most were open notes and open books. In an in-person classroom, I wasn’t able to use my notes or books. At the same time, taking tests in a huge lecture hall instead of my comfy warm dorm room was different to say the least. I had not studied for an actual test in person test since February 2020 — a year-and-a-half ago!
I had absolutely no experience in studying for a college exam. I could use the tips that my teachers gave me, but I was flying solo in learning material and exam preparation. As a freshman, I took courses in subjects I had already learned in high school. However, college exams were much different than high school ones. For starters, college exams were less frequent and covered a lot more material. In high school, I was able to cram all the material in my head and take a quiz or exam with one or two days of preparation. For college, I found that the easiest way was studying a week ahead of time and making sure I was learning the material as we learned it in class instead of cramming.
Location also had an impact. The only major difference between taking a test in my room versus the lecture hall was this: 150 students around me were stressing about the same exact thing and I wasn’t alone. If the test was hard, I was aware that other students were having a tough time on it as well and it allowed me to breathe. I wasn’t alone. Still, I missed taking it where I could control the temperature on the thermostat and it was a completely silent area. All in all, I was happy to be back in the in-person test-taking.
RECONNECTING WITH CLASSMATES
The final adjustment was subtle: I really cherished and missed the relationships that were formed during in-person classes. In Zoom classes, I would see people with their camera on and maybe talk to them. Still, it just wasn’t the same as meeting someone and talking to someone in person. I was able to meet some of the people that I had online classes with, but it just felt different.
When I met people in person through my classes, it felt more personable; when I saw them in public, I felt like I could start up a conversation. It was easier to start a friendship with them because I knew them. As much as Finance 221 was a difficult class for me, I will always cherish staying up until 2 AM the night before the test with the women in my sorority studying for the test the next day. I missed that part of in-person classes. As great as it was to study less with mostly open book tests, I met more of people in my classes and bonded over whether the class was easy or difficult. Also, I saw people in my classes whom I had not seen for years; I was able to reconnect with them. As ridiculous as this may sound, it made me remember why I came to the Gies College of Business originally: community. I missed not being able to see people; I found that the relationships truly helped me remember why I am in school and chose this career path.
Yes, in-person classes were difficult to get used to and put a lot of stress on me. While my grade point average may have a dipped a little, I’m thankful that I got the experience to be back in the classroom and learn the way that things were before the pandemic. I realize that I will have focus more on my productivity skills and time management. However, I now know that cramming will not be an option, especially when I get to my higher-level classes. In the end, I’m so happy to be able to meet more of the amazing people on this campus that I have been missing the last year. As a result, I can’t wait for what the next two-and-a-half years has to offer.
Bio: My name is Grace Bock and I am a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Gies College of Business. While I was raised by two Illinois graduates, I had no intention of carrying on the legacy until the first time I visited the campus and fell in love. I am currently undeclared, but I have enjoyed looking into the different business majors especially accounting. I like to spend my free time trying new skincare, organizing, staying active, and meeting new people.”
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