May 30, 2024

As the return to in-person classes looms for college and university students, it is time to reflect on the entire online learning experience. 

For the most part, the consensus is that students struggled with online learning and that was also my experience.

All colleges and universities need to lower tuition. Students have paid thousands of dollars to sit at home or in their dorm. Multiple services, such as gym facilities, have not been accessible during the pandemic, so why did students need to pay that money when they could not use those services.

Kennedy Player-Reid, a fourth-year sport media student at Ryerson University, expressed her distress about tuition costs and why she thinks they should be lowered when classes are only being offered online. 

“The fact that I’m paying full tuition and insurance on heavy, expensive equipment when I’m not able to use it is extremely frustrating,” said Player-Reid. “I’m also paying $2,500 a month to live in downtown Toronto because I was told my classes would be in person.”

Player-Reid works on her online school at her dorm in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Kennedy Player-Reid/Ryerson University.

Schools have constantly been telling students that it is only one more semester until we’re back in person, but they have not stuck to that. As students, we completely understand the everchanging COVID-19 pandemic, but in-person learning has been conducted at the high school level, so why has it not had the same priority for colleges and universities?

My program only has around 12 people in it, so it’s frustrating to know we could follow public health guidelines and be learning in person, but we are not allowed to. 

I know some hands-on programs have been allowed to take place in person, but I see my program as hands-on and we have not been on campus yet. These students in the same boat are missing out on important lessons they will need in the industry. 

“This whole thing has been really disappointing since my program is group-oriented and competitive,” said Player-Reid.

Many students attending Conestoga College can relate to that sentiment because multiple programs across the college are hands-on.

Not only have students missed out on education, but we are missing the experience of attending college and it being the best years of our life. 

Students who started programs in the fall of 2020, like me, have yet to meet our classmates in person. One of the biggest things I was looking forward to in college was making new friends, but that opportunity has essentially been ripped out of my grasp. 

Making friends while being strictly online can be difficult as it’s a struggle to truly connect with classmates when you can’t even see their faces. 

Many other students possibly only had in-person classes for a year or months, but then COVID swept in and stole that from them.

“I’m in a four-year program and I’ve spent two years online,” said Player-Reid. “I only got one full year in-person which is pretty frustrating.”

Player-Reid also said she hasn’t seen many of her classmates for those full two years and she misses when she was able to spend time with them. 

As we take time to reflect on the two-year tragedy of online learning, many students are hopeful the eventual return to in-person can save their college or university experience. No one ever expected to live through a pandemic, but hopefully, students can get some return on their investment and a deserving in-person return in February.

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