A student view - Adjusting to working from home


Day 174753 in lockdown… (or so it feels)

Schools out for summer- or indefinitely it seems. COVID-19 has seen universities move into a new type of learning: paying £9,250 a year to work from home- or ‘WFH’ as the trendy kids call it. Studying for a degree is hard enough to do when most university students lack motivation whilst actually being at uni, never mind being sent out into the wild and expected to fend for ourselves, and our degree back at home.

But without the pull of enticing weekly nights out, no 9AM lectures to drag yourself out of bed for and food other than a staple pot noodle and pasta with… well everything really- can ‘WFH’ for our degrees really be achievable?

From what I’ve heard from my friends who attend other unis, is that some universities have adopted a hands on, constant ‘zoom call’ method of communication, some with a few emails now and again, some have completely jumped ship altogether and abandoned the rest of the year, and some have chosen to keep their students in the dark and just fumble through, as the lecturers know as little as students with what to do in this period of uncertainty. It seems we’re all in the same boat really, with no clue when or if things are going to return to normal, and what this means for our grades overall.

Thankfully I’m lucky enough to have the resources to study at home, but what about those who haven’t? With libraries being shut for good reason and internet access not being a privilege for everyone, I hope sufficient provisions are being made, but word on the grapevine is that some universities aren’t, and it’s simply not acceptable.

Not to mention the fact that students like myself who have fancy new titles as ‘key workers’ and are supposed to fit in with this new schedule of learning and teaching. Holding down both titles as full-time job and full-time student, I’m finding the balance, and most importantly the motivation hard to come by. Although deadlines are scarily looming and quickly approaching to give the all-important end of year result, somehow this all doesn’t feel quite real, and is a bit like the longest spring/summer holidays of our life: where I’d much rather be drawing rainbows, doing drinking challenges on Instagram, exercising to pass the time (I know who’d have thought it!), and watching anything and everything on Netflix to keep me from doing the work I need to do. Procrastination is truly at its finest, and I doubt that’ll be changing for a while.

The best news I’ve heard in a while is the introduction of a ‘no detriment policy’ from a handful of kind and caring universities. Meaning if we were, heaven forbid, to let this nasty time of life get on top of us, the work we have previously done throughout the year comes into effect as a ‘safety net’, to stop us failing miserably. This safety net means if work doesn’t go as well as we hope, it won’t detriment our overall grade in any way, using the work completed in other semesters to create an average grade. If the work completed goes the other way, and exceeds expectations, then this can only benefit our yearly grade, hooray for us!

I personally think this is an ingenious idea and offers support to students worrying about their quality of work without the same support network they’re used to. And I hope other universities quickly follow suit to help out their worried students.

Being so close but yet so far to finishing the year I find very bittersweet, and a bit emotional too! The uni life I had literally just settled into has been taken away from me, normal sleeping schedules have resumed, and it feels odd knowing none of my flatmates are cooking a full chicken at 4am in the morning (true story).

I’m missing uni, my friends, and dare I say it the work too- along with the other half of my wardrobe still living 101 miles away from me! This is normal, and it’s okay to be sad for what you’re missing out on, being apart from friends, being away from home- and missing out on what are supposed to be the best years of our lives.

But, it’s so important thing is to keep busy to get through, (doing the odd bit of uni work where possible), so do whatever you need to do to get through this time, remember this isn’t a productivity competition, and people cope in so many different ways.

Remember that this will pass, and another day gets us one step closer to normality- brighter days are coming soon, so hang on in there.

Charlie O'Loughlin can be contacted via LinkedIn profile is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlie-o-33084619b

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