Student Perspective: What I’ve missed with online-only classes
This past semester has marked one of the most challenging in UNI’s history as we protected the health and safety of our community during a global pandemic. We transitioned from 90% in-person to 100% online instruction in a week. Students managed significant disruptions in their living and learning environments, and our faculty and staff stepped up to maintain the personalized touch that defines a UNI education.
What we’ve learned from our students is that the intangibles of higher education cannot be achieved through an online-only education. Students want the tangibles of building lifelong personal and professional networks that are so important to their careers and to living through times of disruption like we are in now.
Here’s what our current student government president and vice-president tell us about the “things they missed most” by not being on campus last spring.
“I have been very shocked to realize that my ten-minute passing time within classes was one of my favorite parts of my UNI experience, and I have missed that so much. The opportunity to clear my head, run into a friend, grab a coffee, and take in the scenery of our beautiful campus make my days so much better, and I have really missed that sense of spontaneity. The lack of control of my situation throughout the spring semester presented some serious challenges to my education, as I chose an in-person University for the enhanced learning experience. I felt like I had a much harder time retaining information, and I typically love my classes; however, the switch to online classes, amidst losing my RA job, having to say goodbye to all of my friends earlier than anticipated, and moving home had a very serious impact on my mental health. I have so dearly missed getting to go to the library, spend time in the NISG office, go to student organization meetings, and spend time with the people who have made my UNI experience so special. I am eager to be back to campus in the fall.” Elle Boeding, NISG President
“Well... This experience hasn't been the easiest transition to move online. I'm someone who tends to joke during class to give us a minute of respite amidst the rigor of the lesson. Over my time at UNI I have grown into myself and didn't realize the impact I had on other students until we were able to catch up on the stairs or passing in the dining centers. I drastically cut my hair going into my second year and passed someone, who I seldom interact with, in my third year who told me that she cut her hair because she saw me do it. Those moments are things you can't get online. I'm someone who is often misunderstood with my strong personality and demeanor, and the online format has made it much harder to connect to my peers. I struggled working from home, and ended up taking three out of my four classes "Credit/No Credit," rather than for a grade because my environment (while safe) isn't conducive for my learning. Each week online I felt that I was being less productive and didn't have the connection to UNI at all. This was just hard.” Rachel Greene, NISG Vice-President
UNI is committed to helping each student reach their educational, professional and personal life goals. The education and experiences we provide our students this fall will include in-person classes as well as some hybrid experiences that allow flexibility for a variety of student gatherings. As always, our courses will feature access to peer mentoring support. We will keep in-person classes as small as possible while building flexible schedules that provide our students with the community, connection, and academic excellence that are hallmarks of UNI. You can stay updated by visiting the new UNI Forward Together website.