After being in online classes for a little over a month, the challenges of COVID-19 have left students unmotivated and worried about how they will occupy themselves once school gets out.
A new concept called “zoom fatigue” has impacted many as weeks of constant video calls have led to exhaustion and low motivation to learn, only adding to the stress of the pandemic. A major challenge that has developed for many students is staying focused during their online classes while being isolated in their homes.
“[School] definitely doesn’t carry the same weight for me when it’s online as it does in person for some reason,” said Josh Merwise, a sophomore theater major. “It's not like my attention was perfect before, but it’s hard when you can just be doing whatever you want on your computer with your webcam on so it looks like things are normal.”
The combination of students' work, school and personal life in one place has become mentally taxing. It seems that for many, the setting of the classroom contributes heavily to students’ motivation when completing classwork and participating in lectures.
Hayden Wheeler, a sophomore marketing and economics double major, described taking notes during an online lecture as “mentally draining” and said that his biggest challenge during quarantine has been keeping himself productive and focused on his academics.
"People who say they have not dealt with zoom fatigue or who haven't experienced this lack of motivation are straight up lying," said Wheeler. "My attention span and motivation have both shrunk and I can barely sit through an online lecture."
In addition to this lack of motivation, Jenny White, a sophomore communication studies major, and Loi Stroman, a junior journalism major, both described their frustration with the technical difficulties that they have had with their online classes.
“Time after time I keep experiencing Zoom difficulties and technical problems which take time away from actually learning," said Stroman. "I feel like most of my teachers can be understanding, but sometimes they forget that the internet can fail and have problems.”
Without the routine that develops for most students when attending classes on campus, students are finding themselves with more free time and less options to occupy themselves. Merwise, Wheeler, White and Stroman have turned to activities such as cooking, exercising, playing video games or binge-watching shows on Netflix and Disney+.
With summer break quickly approaching and the end of quarantine still uncertain, students have also become concerned about employment, internships and whether they will even be able to see their friends in the coming months.
“I work in designer retail in Los Angeles so if that opens up I will need to move back to L.A., find housing and work so that I don’t lose my job,” said White. “It’s an important career starting job where I work so it’s important for me to return as soon as I can.”
The employment that college students would usually apply for for the summer or after graduation may not be as available as some may have hoped due to the downturn of the economy. With classes and school work no longer occupying their days, students will have to find more time-consuming activities or take up more hobbies to keep busy.
Worry has also extended to the fall semester as some colleges have begun to make plans to move classes online, and there is no certainty of when quarantine will be over. Students in more interactive fields of study, such as White who is minoring in dance or Merwise who is a theater major, feel that they are unable to truly get the standard of education that they would get in person.
“Well, I don't know, what worries don’t I have?” said Merwise. “I’m worried about a lot of things. I just really want to be back and I would go crazy if I had to do this for an entire semester.”