Harding University students endured separation for five months due to COVID-19, cutting the on-campus spring semester short in March. Students reunited for the fall semester; however, not everyone was able to join the reunion, as some students continued to study remotely.
Junior Jeriah Brumfield chose to attend Harding from home. She said she wants to limit her exposure to people due to the coronavirus and ensure that she could finish the semester without interruptions. During her free time, Brumfield said that she works, enjoys nature and spends time with her family at the lake. When it comes to school, Brumfield said she was having an easy time adjusting due to already having to study remotely last semester.
“I have six classes,” Brumfield said. “The professors are actually doing a really great job transitioning with [remote students] because this is something new for them, too. I feel like it’s both our new normal for right now and kind of an exciting journey to go on to see how adaptable we all can be.”
However, not every remote student has experienced a smooth transition into the fall semester. Senior Daniela Cuellar has struggled with adjusting due to Harding’s unstable internet, which began the first week of classes and has yet to subside.
“I and other remote students have just been stuck because we haven’t been able to hear any lectures,” Cuellar said. “We haven’t even been able to see recordings of anything, so we basically missed a whole bunch of classes and we have no idea what happened, and nobody can really tell us because [the class] wasn’t recorded. The most any professor can do is just say, ‘Hey this is what we talked about,’ but it never comes close to a real lecture.”
Classes are not the only activities Cuellar has to juggle in her life. Along with taking 17 hours this semester, she also undertook an online internship in Searcy and committed to tutoring virtually three to four times a day. Any free time she has left in her week is spent catching up on sleep, spending time with family and friends and watching Netflix.
“It’s been a really hard adjustment,” Cuellar said.
Despite all the nuances, students have seen some benefits of studying remotely. Senior John Lim, who chose to virtually attend Harding from his home in Singapore, said that a significant amount of flexibility came along with online learning.
“I am taking several classes that there’s a lot of deep thinking involved,” Lim said. “If I completely phase out, I can pause the video, leave and go do something else, then come back refreshed. There is that flexibility that I really appreciate, and of course, being around family has been a big part of that.”