How are Utah college students handling online learning?

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Many BYU students are getting some, if not all, of their course instruction via livestream video chat on Zoom. (Photo illustration by Whitney Bigelow)

College students are finding it difficult to navigate obstacles with online school during the COVID-19.

For some students in the middle of their degrees shifting to online learning hasn’t been a big issue, like for BYU student Jenna Atkinson Nielsen who was homeschooled for most of her childhood.

“All of my classes are online, but I’m used to the concept of school at home, so it’s going really well so far,” she said. “I also have chronic fatigue, so it has been really nice to just be able to log in from home.”

Incoming Gen Z-ers like Emily Giddings are having a different experience though. Giddings is entering her freshman year at the University of Utah, and college itself is a whole new world, much less online.

“I’m lucky enough to get most of my classes in person, but I can say for sure that the classes I do have online I get nothing out of, really,” Giddings said. “It’s so easy to turn your camera off and mute yourself and just go on TikTok and get nothing out of it.”

She continued to say if she wasn’t currently benefitting from a scholarship, she would be more uneasy about the University of Utah tuition, which currently amounts to around $30,000 for out-of-state students and $9,000 for Utah residents.

BYU undergraduate student Carissa Mitchell expressed her frustrations about her own online experiences. In many of her classes, the workload has increased due to professors’ assumptions that students have more time.

“I feel like the quality is worse, not because of the professors, but because you’re not having an in-person experience and it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re in an isolated position and you’re studying by yourself,” Mitchell said.

She added that rental agreements are causing financial burden.

“Everyone has to be in Provo because they signed their housing contracts, and I could be at home saving money,” she said. “But everyone’s just here, paying tuition, paying rent, and it looks like winter is going to be the same.”

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