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Holitza: Classes are on campus now, but students still aren’t

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Finding it more challenging than usual to drag yourself out of bed to go to your 8 a.m. lecture? Many students, including me, are likely struggling with the new normal as we attempt to adapt to a hybrid class schedule.

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But the new normal is far from the one we knew back in March. Mask mandates, social distancing orders, online and hybrid classes and an abrupt return to coursework are just a few of the changes we, as students, have been asked to cope with upon our return to campus.

It can be difficult to find motivation right now, and no matter how we chose to spend our time during the lockdowns and socially-distant summer, it’s a tough transition to readapt to this new normal. And let’s face it: some of us got lazy.

After spending the past six months socially distant, with a few of those months stuck inside with stay-at-home orders across the country and with very little in-person social interaction for some of us, students were expected to be ready and able to immediately return to a full schedule of coursework in week one.

With a drastic shift in daily life since classes went online in March, there was a dramatic ripple effect on everyday activities. With statewide stay-at-home orders, there was little need to be aware of how much time had passed. For some, this may have resulted in adopting some bad habits such as sleeping in later than normal, unhealthy eating habits, excessive device usage, overuse of liquor and/or marijuana, lots of late-night binges and media overconsumption.

Going from a fairly sedentary and low-demand lifestyle to a full schedule and, for many students, a full time job is a jarring adjustment. Anxiety and stress are definitely issues that everyone needs to watch out for to this semester. 

“with any online classes, finding motivation seems difficult. it creates the possibility of watching lectures from the comfort of your bed or completing readings and coursework at any time throughout the day.”

Toward the beginning of August, the Centers for Disease Control published a report that found nearly three times more adults had reported symptoms of anxiety and four times more had reported symptoms of depressive disorders than last year. The CDC report also presented data revealing that young adults, among other groups, have been disproportionately affected by the spike in mental health-related disorders. 

Social interaction is an important part of our needs as humans. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from your freshman psychology class? Well, if you forgot, it basically outlines what a healthy brain needs to function, and one of those key needs is social interaction. It is essential to our mental health, and when we are deprived of that social interaction, it takes a serious toll. COVID-19 is affecting everyone in this way, and some people may react worse than others to limited social interaction. 

So whether you have mostly in-person classes or are completely online might make a serious difference when it comes to your mental health.

With any online classes, finding motivation seems difficult. It creates the possibility of watching lectures from the comfort of your bed or completing readings and coursework at any time throughout the day. Speaking from experience, procrastinating right until the deadline is the best and the worst motivator.

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There are a few big downsides to the possibilities created by online classes. One example is that it gives us no excuse to miss a lecture. Another is that, with the comfort that comes with attending classes from home, there will never be a need to cancel school due to snow ever again.

However, some students are thriving under an online or hybrid class structure. The ability to create and shape one’s own day can be helpful to some. Many online classes are structured so that the bulk of assignments are due on Friday or Sunday or so the lectures can be watched at students’ convenience. However, for those who struggle with procrastination, this can be a serious pitfall, as putting off most of your class work until Friday or Sunday might lead to some problems keeping up later on in the semester.

On campus, there are many resources dedicated to students’ mental health, but getting anyone suffering from depression and anxiety to seek help is a challenge in and of itself. It is important for friends and family to reach out and provide support for someone who is struggling and to remind them that they have many resources available to them.

Mason Holitza can be reached at letters@collegian.com. 

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