When Trevecca first announced they were extending spring break, Carlos Lopez was initially relieved.
“It would have helped with some work that had to be done and overall seemed like an extended vacation,” said Lopez, senior information technology major.
But once he heard that Trevecca was making the move to online courses for the rest of the spring semester, Lopez’s feelings quickly changed.
“When I heard this, I was a bit overwhelmed because I was used to the class routine,” said Lopez.
Trevecca’s 1,310 undergraduates who were enrolled in traditional, face-to-face classes all transitioned to online classes last month. For many students and faculty, the switch from in-person to online classes required some getting used to and will power to cope.
The classes that are more hands-on oriented can be a struggle for him to keep up with, but the transition has not been all negative, Lopez said.
“On the other hand, the easiest part of the transition is that I have more free time to do homework,” Lopez said.
For Hildsy Petrossian, a freshman majoring in commercial music voice, the university’s decision to move all classes online for the rest of the spring semester came as a complete shock.
“I was worried how my music training would work online, because commercial voice is such an interactive major,” Petrossian said. “I was also broken for the seniors in the music department who had worked so hard to prepare for their senior recitals and final concerts.”
Petrossian is still performing well in her classes and her professors have been flexible with her and have maintained an open line of communication, it is still hard for Petrossian to replicate a face-to-face interaction and deal with her heavy workload, she said.
“My voice lessons are over FaceTime which has been so unique, but this system has been working,” she said. “Right now, I feel like I am doing so much that I cannot do everything in excellence.”
To stay focused on schoolwork, Petrossian created a new routine and stay organized. She does this by making lists and planning out her school week on a strict schedule.
“I don’t let myself go to bed without completing my list which has led to a few 4 a.m. nights,” said Petrossian.
Petrossian is also looking forward to next semester when she is able to see all of her friends again in person, meet the incoming freshman and complete some projects she has been unable to work on.
Stephanie Cawthorne, a mathematics professor at Trevecca, said the hardest part of the online transition has been witnessing all of the suffering the virus has caused, especially those dealing with the death of a loved one, job loss, financial struggles, and the distancing of community and other support systems.
“It has been heavy on my heart knowing that so many of our students are facing difficult situations and I am not able to meet with them face-to-face,” Cawthorne said.
What Cawthorne misses the most about teaching in a traditional classroom has been the regular interactions with her students.
“I truly miss seeing my students, asking how they are doing, and having in-depth, in person conversations with them. I am looking forward to being together as a community again next semester,” said Cawthorne.
Donna Gray, Trevecca’s director of academic services for the Center for Student Development, checks in with students to make sure they are handling the change of class format as best as they can, and contacting tutors to see if they are still available to help the students who need it.
“[Tutors] are available, so if students want to request a tutor, they simply need to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the course for which they are requesting a tutor,” said Gray.
The Trevecca faculty and staff responded in different ways to support the students, said Gray.
Some professors work closely with their students, offering them grace to adjust to classes in a non-traditional format, she said.
Videos are often posted on Facebook featuring University President Dan Boone and other members of the Trevecca community to try to encourage students during this uncertain time, said Gray. The Chaplain’s office also offers videos centered around “How Christians Respond in Times of Crises,” in addition to regular devotionals for spiritual discipline, she said.
Lopez said that he has had to deal with some loss in motivation, as well as difficulties in asking and receiving help in some of his classes.
“Sometimes, when I don’t really understand something that the professor has said, another student usually asks a question that elaborates or brings clarity to everything that I am confused about,” Lopez said.
Lopez additionally expressed some sadness and concern that has come along with this change in circumstances, as he is worried that there will not be as many job opportunities available after he graduates because of the pandemic. He also mentioned how hard it has been to accept that he won’t have a traditional senior year or graduation experience.
“I am a first generation student so it really sucks that I did not get to have a graduation like a regular student,” he said.