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Post-secondary students focusing on studies during Covid-19 pandemic

University of Calgary
Students from around Alberta are dealing with the stress of having to do all their school work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. File Photo

University students in Cochrane are making adjustments to their study habits after all universities were closed in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

"It’s been chaotic, really trying to stay on top of all the email updates and trying to get online lectures to function in a way that makes sense," said Mac Niewchas, an Environmental Technology student at SAIT.

"A lot of assignments and project have been scrapped, which sucks because a lot of work has already been put into them.... I’ve noticed that even some of my profs are having a really difficult time adjusting and making things work, they’re keeping cool heads but I can tell how stressed they are. Overall my ability to learn has been sort of left in limbo, I think there are ways that we’ll be able to stay on track but nothing can replace an in-person program, especially at SAIT." 

Kenzie Hamilton, who is soon-to-be graduating from Mount Royal's Physical Literacy program, said her instructors are also struggling to adapt.

"...A lot of my assignments are presentations. It has been a big change not only for myself but for the teachers," she said.

"It has created a bit of uncertainty with how the rest of the semester is going to go and it definitely worries me, especially as a graduating student this semester. I miss interacting with my friends in school because that is usually the only time that I get to see them. I also feel like I am not being as productive while being at home compared to being in class."

Others have had an easier time adjusting to the move.

"To be honest, it has not impacted my learning that dramatically," said Jana Kirton, a nursing student at Mount Royal University. "However, this is only because this semester is quiet for me. All of the course I'm currently in are all ones that could be transferred online."

She added, the impact would be significant if she were in her third or fourth year.

"Third and fourth year of nursing is when we are basically in clinical 24/7. So, not only would I [not] be able to obtain skills as efficiently because I wouldn’t be able to be there hands on, which is the way I learn best, but also some of my courses would not be able to be transferred to online so I would get put back a year in graduating from my degree." 

Kirton said her mental health is intact for the time being, but she worries about what might be coming in the future.

"Things such as, how will I make money, will I get put back in school due to the inability of clinical/practicum to go online, how will I pay my bills, will my body be able to fight off the virus if I get it, will my asthma play a factor as to whether or not my case would be severe, will I be able to get groceries, medications, health care needed?" she said.

"However, I also know that panicking about all of these is going to make the situation worse. I keep thinking to myself that if I do get the virus, the best thing that I can do for myself and my immune system is to not panic about the situation. Stress will only make it worse, so that's why I am trying my best to not worry about it. Since I am self-isolating myself, I am also trying to avoid social media because the stories people share, and the wrong information being put out there, is only worsening that stress and anxiety."

Niewchas said he, too, is having a hard time dealing with the uncertainty of the situation.

"It’s been hard, can’t lie about that," he said. "The anxiety of the situation and the not knowing has been one of the hardest things to deal with.

"Being trapped at home really makes you appreciate the things you take for granted. My house is extremely clean now, but my mental health has definitely taken a hit with the mixture of boredom and uncertainty."

The SAIT student added the isolation is also a struggle.

"I’ve been trying really hard to stay home and practice the social distancing that we’re being told to but it’s hard," Niewchas said. "I’m a very outgoing, socially-motivated person, so it’s definitely impacted me not being able to see my friends and just people in general. I’ve been doing some online face-to-face stuff for school and with friends a little bit, but it really isn’t the same. It’s been probably a good week since I’ve been around more than three or four people at once."

COVID-19 UPDATE: Follow our COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national COVID-19 news, resources, FAQs and more.

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