UA Students React to Online Classes and an Uncertain Graduation

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OTIS BLANK
  • Otis Blank

In the age of COVID-19, college students all over the world are adapting to a new normal of online classes, shortened semesters and canceled graduations. As a college student myself, it has been difficult to come to terms with losing that typical college experience of being away from home and actively working towards a career. However, with this new obstacle, I’ve acquired a few new skills; learning to adapt to online classes and manage my time as well as stay focused long enough to complete my schoolwork is toughest.


Graduate student Eloy Ramirez, who was on track to graduate this semester with a master’s degree in musicology, is having a similar problem.



“As a musician there is a level of discomfort with playing my instrument to the fullest volume because I don't want to disturb the people I live with,” Ramirez said. “As a teaching assistant for a music class it’s also a challenge to play good quality music examples and administer listening exams online.”



Ramirez says he's grateful for his online classes.

“As a graduate student completing the last semester of my master's degree, cancelling classes would provide a bit more time to complete my thesis work,” Ramirez said, “But I really love what I am studying and I love teaching. Even if it is online, I am happy I am still able to attend my seminars and I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend school.”


At first, it seemed like we were just going to have an extended vacation. I got to stay home and watch movies and learn how to play guitar, but after a while, all the changes began to sink in. The University of Arizona’s reaction to the pandemic is a bittersweet one; I thought it was the right call to continue classes online since it would make me feel useful during this uncertain time, but as the days went by, it became harder to keep track of time—and therefore assignments—because I am easily distracted at home. And I'm not alone.


“It’s hard for me because I can’t withdraw from classes because it would ruin my FAFSA,” said Luis Espinoza, a junior at UA. “But I also can’t seem to get the hang of online classes which will inevitably ruin my GPA. It feels like a lose/lose situation.”


Life as we know it has also changed. Not only has our academic career changed, but I began to realize that there would be no more concerts, lectures or large school events.


Paulina Lopez, a UA senior set to graduate this May, was disappointed by the graduation cancellation.


“I was actually really sad to find out that there wasn’t going to be a ceremony this May,” said Lopez. “I obviously understand why there can’t be one and it’s in everyone’s best interest and for their safety, but it’s still upsetting because commencement is such a huge part of the college experience. In a way it’s kind of like the last four years are going unnoticed.”


On April 3, the UA stated their commencement team is "evaluating what a postponed main ceremony could look like in the future and preparing for the streaming graduation experience on May 15."


Ana Espinoza is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.

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