Going back to college doesn’t have quite the same ring when you’re told you’ll be spending very little time on campus.
That’s certainly the case for second-year WIT student Yeaneah O’Connell, who says most of her classes have been moved online.
She describes the recent diet of Powerpoint presentations as “pretty bad” compared to face-to-face lectures and seminars.
Ms O’Connell is majoring in English and doing a minor in psychology – two courses which naturally come with a lot of reading. But with reduced access to the library, this task has become more difficult, particularly as she has dyslexia.
“You have to use online books and they’re so hard to keep track of,” she said. “I would be trying to figure out a sentence for ages looking at the screen.”
Like many college libraries, WIT has a click and collect service. Students fill out an online form and request to take a book out, then library staff will give them a collection time. However, Ms O’Connell has yet to move back to Waterford so cannot avail of the service.
Reduced library services in general have proven to be a challenge for many students as it has disrupted their study routine.
Maynooth University student Eoghan Murphy usually studies with a group of his classmates. The Maynooth library is open but with limited capacity.
And college is about much more than just academic work. Friends for life can be made there – although actually making friends might be more difficult now than ever.
Mr Murphy joined the college maths society, a place where he made many of his friends. But Covid has largely limited how much college clubs and societies can do.
“We’d meet up every Wednesday evening and it was just a really, really nice place to go. Just a bunch of like-minded people,” he said.
He said without the social aspect, “it’ll make university more stressful because you won’t have as many outlets”.
For some students like Béibhinn Thorsch, this might be less of an issue.
Ms Thorsch, who’s doing a higher diploma in English in MU, said that as a postgraduate student, she doesn’t need that social element as much as she did as an undergraduate.
“I think postgrads who’ve already been to college don’t need to have that kind of student life aspect in so many ways,” she said.
“They have whole lives – it’s not the same as being a college student.”
Ms Thorsch said she actually doesn’t want to have in-person lectures.
“It’s obviously so much more flexible to be able to work from home,” she said. “Even if we did classes in person, I don’t think I would go.
“It would just be a lot of people, travelling a lot of distances, to do something that doesn’t really need to be done.”
She also no longer has to look for accommodation, something she wasn’t able to afford as an undergraduate in DCU without working every weekend.
Thanks to online classes, she doesn’t have to make the weekly commute back to her native Carlow.
Working during college remains unavoidable for some students though – like nursing student Lydia Chartienitz.
Work placement is naturally a part of her course, and she works three 12-hour shifts every week. Though things have changed this year, she’s maintaining a positive attitude.
“There’s a lot more precautions with Covid,” she said. “I think that the hospital has done an amazing job. We have to do these courses now on how to put on PPE for Covid.”
Source: Irish News