Community COVID-19 Opinion

The Challenges and Benefits of On-Campus Learning

Students on Caf Lane. Photo by Lauren O'Brien.

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Maddie Landsverk is a junior chemistry major and transfer student at PLNU.

As a transfer to PLNU, I expected a few challenges in my first year. The fall semester went as expected, with isolation being a true obstacle to making friends from my off-campus apartment. Although I was happy to have online access to classes, the fact that I lost out on the community PLNU is known for was disappointing but obviously understandable. After a long winter, the spring semester and on campus learning was just around the corner and I was so excited to finally meet everyone I saw on Zoom for the last seven months. 

The first week of school, however, ended up being one of the most stressful weeks I have had in a few years. I knew it would be difficult since this semester I have the heaviest course load of the two years I will spend at PLNU, a job in a research lab and the looming boxes to check as a junior pre-med student. But the emotional toll and social shock of being around so many new people was greater than I anticipated. 

I would consider myself more of an extrovert, being strengthened by the people around me, and through quarantine, I learned the importance of bonding with immediate family and closest friends. When we went back to school this semester, I was so conditioned to rely on those people that I panicked when they were three hours away in my hometown in Ventura County while I had yet to find a group of friends at PLNU. 

On top of the social aspects of PLNU and the semi-end to quarantine, I also had to figure out the campus and my classes. The combination of synchronous Zoom meetings, on campus outdoor classes, on campus indoor labs and asynchronous courses really added to my initial stress of being at PLNU for the first time. 

The first day of the spring semester, my last two classes ended and began 10 minutes apart. The first one is on campus in an outdoor classroom, but the next is on Zoom. I am a person who is distracted easily, so sitting outside (regardless of how nice the view is) is not the ideal learning environment. At the time, Ryan Library was closed and my apartment is about 15 minutes away, including walking time to and from my car. It was pouring rain and I had to go home because sitting outside was not an option. I was late to my class and my breakout room had already started working on the in-class assignment. The following Friday, I stayed after class and spoke with the professor one-on-one. He was very forgiving and understanding about the situation, which definitely helped put me at ease. The same problem happened between a lab and Zoom lecture another day, but that Zoom class has since turned into an on campus course and resolved the issue I previously had. 

Overall, this has been a very difficult transition, but one that is also historic and well worth the experiences I will inevitably have during my time here. The professors at PLNU have proved time and time again how much they care about our well being and (as transfers and first-years) our initial involvement in the PLNU community. While there are challenges, I think having on campus learning benefits the quality of our education. Self-sufficiency was not a trait I exemplified in the fall since I had such poor study habits from the years prior. Now that I am here, I can see these professors use certain teaching styles that force students to get involved and ask questions in the pursuit of true understanding.

By: Maddie Landsverk


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