Highline students said having Spring Quarter online was stressful at first but got better.
Highline’s Spring Quarter was moved online due to the coronavirus outbreak. The outbreak led Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to issue a stay-at-home order in mid-March.
Highline quickly moved to observer the governor’s directive. Most classes moved to online platforms such as Canvas and Zoom. Summer Quarter will also be online.
“It’s OK. Kind of makes me slack off a bit and rush to get my work done right before it’s due. So just pacing for me is bad,” said Billie Winter, a Highline student.
Winter is not alone. Others too said they have had problems pacing themselves and making themselves do work on time.
“Spring quarter has been hard to handle, because there's good and bad,” said Zoey Williams, a sophomore at Highline who also works for the Inter-Cultural Center.
Williams has seen some difficulty during this quarter.
“I've done really well in one class and earned a 4.0, and have struggled in my other two courses,” she said.
Williams said she missed the personal contact of live classes.
“When online courses ask students to interact with each other on discussion posts, it feels so formal and stiff, and much less productive than in-person dialogue. Asking classmates and instructors for help can be hard,” Williams said.
For some students, the closed campus meant they didn’t get to participate in spring activities such as sports.
Bri Barlow, who is an outfielder for the Highline T-Birds softball team, was ready to get the ball rolling before this pandemic started.
“It’s extremely sad,” she said. “Also, we had just began to get it going then having to say goodbye to a really exciting season that we were all looking forward to.”
Learning online changed her perspective about college, however, Barlow said.
She said of her preference “Before this quarter, definitely in-class teaching. But after this quarter probably online because it’s simpler and I don’t get distracted on the way to my next class.”
Barlow’s teammate, Alisha Maligon, who is in her first year at Highline, said, “It’s hard to sugar coat the whole situation. I think it’s been hard for every student and staff member.”
Maligon said she still would rather be in class.
“I prefer having face-to-face instruction because I feel more focused and feel like I am in the environment to learn,” she said.
“I would take online classes again but I really do need to learn my lesson and not procrastinate as it can be hard to catch up in the end,” said Callie Davis, a Highline student in her last quarter.
Many students said they struggled with procrastination.
“It’s so much easier for me to procrastinate,” said Millie Gonzalez of Federal Way, “since I’m at home with my family making noise. I also feel it’s been hurting my head to sit down and be on a computer for 10 hours a day.”
Distractions at home were a common theme for students.
“I have a difficult time focusing on my work at home,” said Joemir Nocom.
“It was hard trying to motivate myself to actually do the work when there’s so many distractions,” said Raelyn Lowry. “I liked that I have more time to do things but motivating myself was pretty hard.”
Though students said they had problems getting work done on time due to procrastination they did enjoy some aspects of taking classes online.
“I liked that there were no exact due dates. There were times when my professors wanted assignments done but they would still be graded full credit if they were turned in late,” said Diana Stefanyuk. “In other words, I was able to take my time on assignments that I was confused on.”
“I liked not having to wake up and drive somewhere early in the morning and be able to learn when I wanted,” said Aimee Howes, a Highline student in her last quarter.
“My classes have not required Zoom meetings, but I know that I would not like it if I had to because I like doing my work when I want to (within the time I have before it is due). I’m used to online classes because I have had a lot of hybrid and full online classes,” said Zekiah Harris of Des Moines.
“I just really appreciate the flexibility of online classes whenever I needed help I just contacted a fellow student or my professor,” said Shanna Freeman of Renton.
“Online classes work better for me because of a lack of distraction and the flexibility,” said Jack Stein, who lives in Auburn and is majoring in engineering.
For some, online schooling just works better in their schedules.
“Especially since I work and have a life outside of school I can do most assignments online in less time than I would having to sit through lectures that take up an hour or more that I can just read in way less time,” said Mark Catash, who lives in Tacoma and is majoring in personal fitness training.
Callie Davis said she wishes some classes gave an introduction and told students how the class would be set up and gave some tips for staying on top of assignments during this crazy time.
“Don’t be afraid to email your teacher if you need help or are confused on an assignment,” said Diana Stefanyuk.
“Online there’s less communication and less clarification, I personally think,” said one student.
“Being online is more stressful and it’s hard to get the direct answers you need from teachers because they seem to be confused as well,” said Anaya Redmond who lives in Kent and is going for an AA degree.
Redmond was not alone in struggling to communicate with her professors.
“It was tough learning from home because I wasn’t able to really ask questions to my professors,” said Highline student Janine Granstrand.
“Although everything is now self-paced, there isn’t reminders from professors to get things done,” she said.
Granstrand said she participated in study groups via Zoom to help her with course material.
“It’s important to build connections and study groups even if lectures are online,” she said.
Students said they found they had to take more responsibility for school.
“By being away from the school and instructors, I really had to take control over my studies,” Daniel Vuong said. “It can be hard to find motivation at times.
“Not only me but other people have complained about was that it is kind of hard to find motivation to do work,” he said. “I learned that online school is do-able, and it’ll be helpful when taking future online classes.”
Organization was one of the keys, students said.
“At the start of the quarter, I wouldn’t say I was slacking but I was unorganized,” Ishmael Togi said. “Once I started to be organized and looked ahead for due dates, it became easier. I should’ve made sure I was completely organized at the beginning of the quarter.”
Zoey Williams said there was some comfort in knowing that everyone was facing the same challenges.
“This quarter was an experience I won’t forget,” Williams said. “Me struggling this quarter isn’t a sign that I’m not good enough, because my professors and classmates are reminding me that everyone is hurting, and therefore it turned into other people’s struggle.”
Thunderword reporters Remi Frederick, Laila Goings, Mahlik Hall and Ashlee Stacy contributed to this story.