By Amanda Bentham
Imagine living in a world where interactions, meetings and getting an education virtually becomes a new norm for society. Having to adjust lifestyles to keep up with the change.
Online learning has affected Flagler College students’ mental health to the point of exhaustion, feeling worn down and having anxiety rise to an all-time high due to heavy workloads.
Kaysen Wall, a junior at Flagler College, decided to take a break from school due to an increase of stress regarding online learning. He wanted to improve his mental health by focusing on himself.
“I have dyslexia and ADHD so in-person classes helped me stay focused and the discussions helped me understand readings better as sometimes I can’t grasp everything I read,” Wall said. “But, with online classes, they made me so stressed that I found myself feeling helpless, lost and overall stuck.”
Wall found himself struggling to understand the material given in online classes while trying to keep up with the latest assignments, readings and discussion posts that were due.
“I found myself trying to scramble information from books, classmates and outside sources to try and teach myself course material,” Wall said. “Due to this, it was so hard trying to get my mind to focus online and I honestly found myself giving up.”
Wall and other students have had to navigate face-to-face, hybrid and fully online classes simultaneously. This combination created to meet students at their comfort level has proven difficult for them.
Having to adapt to new learning styles which has made socialization decrease, online learning has created a disconnected world between professors and students.
Melissa McGarry, a fully online student at Flagler, is having a hard time feeling personally connected with her professors since she only sees them virtually or not at all.
“I wish I had the opportunity for my professors to get to know me better this year rather than just being another name on a screen,” McGarry said.
Even though McGarry attends three online lectures a week, she still feels isolated from the traditional learning setting which makes her anxiety spike higher than normal.
“Attending each lecture leaves me feeling mentally drained,” McGarry said. “Online learning has made me less motivated because all I do is sit at my computer with hardly any structured routine.”
Since being a fully online student, McGarry has noticed herself becoming more frustrated and anxious from the online environment which has extended into her personal life.
“I have had to take on a lot of adult responsibilities this semester in addition to my online classes, so I’m getting overwhelmed much faster and easier,” Mcgarry said.
Online learning has made students work more independently with a lot fewer face-to-face interactions which has been a hard task to manage for multiple college students, including Mcgarry.
“Since there’s quite a bit of independent teaching, it adds to my stress because I’m not very good at it,” McGarry said.
In addition to students struggling while taking online classes, Katherine Owens, a Special Collections Librarian, at the Flagler College Proctor Library has seen students experiencing difficulties during this semester.
“Many students have told me they are stressed and struggling with all the work assigned to them,” Owens said. “My colleagues at the Counseling Center have been extremely busy with students seeking professional help.”
For most students, this semester has been one of the hardest due to having to juggle online classes with in-person classes and everything that comes in between.
“A lot of students feel that there’s been more assignments given now rather than in the past, especially for the fully online courses,” Owens said. “I think a lot of the struggle has been that most students have never had to work completely virtual before.”
Students are dealing with the workload increasing, feeling lonely and stressing out from how intense online classes are for them. Some students have decided not to come back to school until the spring, in hopes of all classes being in-person again.
“I sense that students have a hunger for human companionship because they are so isolated and overwhelmed with classes, which is understandable,” Owens said.