Carlson School Students Reflect on an Unusual Spring Semester

Friday, July 10, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the spring semester, the University had to adapt quickly to a new way of life. As we prepare for a fall semester that will also look different, students look back on what they learned, how they coped, and share some advice for incoming students.

 

Sidney Enninga

Sidney Enninga

Junior, Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management majors

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus?

When classes went online last spring, my teachers went above and beyond to make the transition as seamless as possible. What worked really well for me was when teachers set up certain times to teach the class via Zoom. It was a way I could still connect with my classmates and teacher on a routine basis.

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time?

In Carlson, there are a lot of group projects that are a part of the curriculum. Some of my instructors last spring set aside more time to meet every group individually to answer questions we had about the project. They did an amazing job finding us more resources to utilize and finding ways to troubleshoot problems we ran into by not being in person. They wanted us to make sure we learned the material just as great, if not better given the circumstances.

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others?

To stay connected with my friends, we will have weekly Zoom calls where we play games and catch up with one another. Our favorite game by far is skribbl.io!

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?

You may not be starting off your freshman year as you have hoped, but that’s okay. College is all about overcoming obstacles you never expected would get in your way. Keep your mind open as you enter college and always say yes! Try out new clubs, get free pizza, meet new people—it’s the best way to get acquainted with the University and your classmates.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

They say college will be the best four years of your life, and I’m pretty convinced it will be, too. However, during my first semester of freshman year, I didn’t necessarily think the same way. I felt like it took me a little longer to find my community on campus than everyone else. My words of encouragement are to not get discouraged right away. It may take a little longer to find your friends, but once you do, you’ll be busy hanging with them 24/7.

Kayla Fixel

Kayla Fixel

Senior, Accounting and Finance majors

 

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time?

One of my favorite phrases I’ve heard during these strange times is to “give others grace,” and it’s something I’ve seen my classmates, professors and advisors practice a lot during this time. I’ve experienced others give me the benefit of doubt more times than I can count, and I likewise have been a lot more understanding of the situations others are in. Technological glitches happen, priorities differ (and are inherently different due to the nature of a global pandemic), and sometimes you have to prioritize your physical and mental health. 

With that being said, you will still be pushed in your education and challenged to work hard and think in new ways. Professors still want you to work hard, and I still felt there were expectations regarding my performance and learning outcomes. This really helped me maintain a sense of normalcy, as I did have to study a lot, read articles and textbooks outside of class, and critically think about the content I’m learning.

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others?

One of the big perks of having classes online is that you cut out all time spent commuting in your day. Instead of having to leave my apartment at 7:15am to get to class by 8, I was able to wake up, eat a nice breakfast and take my time, as I only had to open my laptop by 8am. Having the extra time previously spent commuting also meant I had time to go on walks, FaceTime friends, journal, or just relax and destress from the day. 

In terms of staying connected with others, that’s something I had a hard time with this spring. I am super bad at using social media or texting to my advantage, and at times I definitely felt like I lost touch with a lot of my friends. What got me through was the fact that I know I had important people in my life that I care about—and that care about me—and when I did reach out, we would catch up on a Zoom call for hours. I worked to be very intentional about how and when I was connecting with friends, and I’ve worked hard to stay engaged despite the physical distance currently.

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?

Give yourself a break; it’s really easy to think that since your classes are online you can just keep overloading yourself with things to do, but I encourage you to take a step back and keep realistic expectations for yourself. Even though you don’t have to walk from class to class or event to event, virtual fatigue is real; don’t schedule yourself with 8 straight hours of classes and meetings. It’s ok to challenge yourself, but keep in mind that you still need time to relax and unwind. 

What have you learned about yourself through this experience? Has this realization changed your short- or long-term plans?

I’ve felt a lot healthier since I’ve been online for school, as it’s afforded me additional time to breathe, relax, and learn hobbies instead of always working on school. I was the type of student who was in Carlson frequently from 7:30am until around 5 or 6pm; some nights even later if I had student group meetings. I would pack my lunch and dinner and carry them around all day, because I wouldn’t have time to go home. Now, I have been able to set healthy boundaries for myself regarding how I spend my time, and I’ve been able to relax and say no to things a little easier than when I was on campus.

Abby Medberry

Abby Medberry

Sophomore, Management Information Systems, Supply Chain and Operations Management, and
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies majors

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus? 

My classes all switched online, some synchronous and some asynchronous. For me, I prefer synchronous learning over asynchronous by far and I would attend office hours and email my professors regularly just to ensure I was understanding properly. What I missed most about being on campus was the friends I had made, especially out-of-state or international friends.

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time? 

This time changed my plans a lot. I had initially thought I would be studying abroad this summer. When that was canceled, I started the internship search and was able to secure an internship, but that was canceled around April/May. My advisors and peer career coaches were there every step of the way and encouraged me to find other opportunities to learn and grow this summer.

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others? 

Making a conscious effort to see my college friends—many of whom are out of state or international students—we have weekly Zoom meetings along with calling/texting regularly. For my personal physical and mental health, I’ve picked up cooking and really enjoy cooking a healthy meal. I FaceTime one of my friends and we work out daily “together,” and I also meditate which helps a lot with my personal mental health.

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others? 

Freshman year is so much more than the classes you take, it’s the connections you make and being away from home. This is why I really think that despite online courses, freshman year will still be a great experience as dorms are still open and student groups (at least the ones I’m involved in) are still holding events.

Faith Ogega

Faith Ogega

Senior, Finance major & Marketing and Leadership minors

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus?

All of my courses were changed into a virtual format to accommodate for social distancing. Each course changed based on the professor’s preferences. For example, one of my professors was very understanding of the challenges associated with transitioning into a virtual classroom, whereas others seemed to conduct business as usual. 

What worked well for me was pre-recorded videos posted on Canvas. This provided students with more flexibility rather than logging into Zoom at a specific time. 

I missed the extracurricular activities the most. It was unfortunate to miss out on student group events, campus-wide events (i.e Spring Jam), and other things outside of the classroom.

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time?

Some instructors prioritized students’ mental and emotional health. This was apparent by encouraging words communicated in emails, reduced course material, etc. 

What has meant the most to you or been helpful during this time?

Making sure to spend time with my roommates and try new things! Taco nights, walks, movie nights. It’s been a blessing to spend more time with them and doing things we wouldn’t normally have time for. 

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?

  • We will get through this! 
  • Do one new thing each week.
  • Boredom is a sign of opportunity. Go learn. Go create. Go do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Take time to rest.

What have you learned about yourself through this experience? Has this realization changed your short- or long-term plans?

I’ve learned how much I value autonomy. I like to be in control of my own time and our previous “normal” did not allow me that flexibility. I’ve also learned the amount of discipline associated with autonomy. If I want my future to be more on my terms, I will have to be very disciplined. Autonomy does not mean a lack of structure.

Rick Pradhan

Rick Pradhan

Senior, Finance major & Entrepreneurial Management minor

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus?

Faculty were either holding online lectures at the same time classes would’ve been or posting pre-recorded lectures so you could watch them whenever was best for you. What worked best for me was to try to rebuild the structure of my schedule and allotting time for certain classes, and one of the biggest things was to ALWAYS CHECK YOUR DEADLINES. I took for granted being in-person for classes because you were always somehow reminded of your deadlines.

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time?

The biggest accommodation that my instructors gave me was the empathy to understand the position that all of the students were thrown into on such short notice. Additional help and support was given in the form of virtual office hours, extended lectures to make sure all questions were answered, and extended deadlines, amongst many other things. I think the biggest thing that got all of us through this semester was the faculty’s ability to listen, understand and act on it. 

What has meant the most to you or been helpful during this time?

I think remembering to just take a few minutes every day to decompress and maybe listen to some of your favorite music or watch your favorite TV show. It’s important to spend some quality time with yourself, too. 

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others?

I’ve taken up journaling at the end of every week and I’ve found it to help clear up my mind since there is so much to think about around the world now.

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?

Resiliency and open-mindedness build character. Especially in times like these, I think it is important to remember that yes, we are “living in a history chapter” and yes, we may not know exactly how this chapter ends, but there is potential for so much good to come out of this if we commit to staying resilient and open-minded.

Carly Westerlund

Carly Westerlund

Sophomore, Accounting and Finance majors

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus? 

All of my classes switched to synchronous instruction over Zoom. I liked live Zoom lectures because I was able to contribute to class discussions and ask questions. I miss being able to see and communicate with classmates beyond chatting in Zoom. I also really miss being able to make impromptu study groups or go to in-person office hours. Most of all I miss on-campus events, student organizations, and sporting events.

What are some ways your instructors, advisors, peers, and/or others at the U (especially Carlson) have supported and encouraged you during this time? 

I have attended virtual office hours with my professors and advisor, all being very helpful. I’m involved in Women in Business and have found that group to be very supportive during this time, from encouraging emails to a group yoga class over Zoom.

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others? 

Being on a computer all day is very tiring. I find that exercising and getting outside re-energizes me. Being physically distant from friends and classmates can feel lonely, requiring you to make an extra effort to communicate with them. I found that making the effort to communicate and virtually hanging out with friends helps my mental health and makes me understand that we are all going through it together.

Sam Wittwer

Sam Wittwer

Senior, Management Information Systems major & Finance, Business Analytics, and Business of Healthcare minors

 

How did your classes change to accommodate distance learning and other needs? What worked well for you? What do you miss about being on campus?

I would say about half of my classes held live Zoom lectures and half of them switched to asynchronous class structure, where you watched the lecture on your own time. Some of the testings that was scheduled got rearranged, but all of my assignments, tests, and presentations still occurred virtually.

When we went online, the synchronous classes opened up a lot of flexibility in my schedule. I had much more time to complete my work and felt less worried about deadlines. All of my professors were very patient and willing to work with us with the online classes as well.

The thing I missed most was just seeing people I knew in the halls at Carlson. It’s one thing to see people during virtual class, but there were a lot of people who I didn’t keep in very good touch with once we moved to online classes.

What are you doing to care for your physical and mental health these days? How are you staying connected with others?

I think one of the hardest things for me was making sure I stayed active. As someone who plays club volleyball and works out at the gym frequently, I was all of a sudden struggling to stay healthy. The thing that helped me both physically and mentally was making sure I was getting up, walking around, talking with my roommates/family, and doing shorter bodyweight workouts. Doing pushups or sit-ups in between (or sometimes during…) lectures, going on runs, and just making time to go outside was really beneficial for me. It’s easy to stay locked away in your room.

What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?

Everyone is going through the same thing and everyone is as patient and as kind as possible. It’s tough, it’s new, it’s different, but the staff and faculty at the University have really gone the extra mile to make it work as best they can. My advice is to be patient with others and with yourself. Things aren’t going the way anyone planned, but that leaves room for a lot of great opportunities.