Student Voice: More Student-Centered Decisions are Needed Past the Pandemic

By Ta’Mya Jarrett | Recent Graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago and PCC Student Advocate Board Member

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The year of 2020 changed life as we know it. Families everywhere suffered from tragic losses. Corporations shut down due to budget cuts and educational systems failed many students. I went from living on campus to campus being completely shut down. The switch from in-person learning to remote learning was very challenging for most students including myself for many reasons. One being the environment I was forced to learn in. A place called home. For some, home is a sanctuary; for others, a chaotic environment.

For me personally, alongside the structure of my home, the adjustment to teaching myself was very difficult. As a math and computer science major, relying on my professor’s notes alone wasn’t enough. Pre-COVID, each one of my major courses had a mandatory lab/discussion classes. During the labs, I would ask all the questions I had curated throughout the week, because the student-to-teacher ratio was significantly less than the lecture ratio. Asking these questions in-person helped better my understanding of the subject, however COVID took that away. I found myself YouTubing everything because our lab sessions were shortened.

But this was only the beginning. As the year went on, I began to adapt and learning became easier. I developed an algorithm that worked for me. This algorithm consisted of a few things. First, I changed my environment so I created me a small quiet office place, known as my Zen room to concentrate. This is where I’d watch my lecture videos three days out the week, the other two days I went on campus for one to two hours to study concepts and do homework all while following COVID guidelines, of course. This way I still felt as if I was on campus getting in class experience. This is what worked for me even as it was very tough for me to keep going because of personal tragedies happening in the mist of my educational transition. But I was determined to finish and be more than a product of my environment.

My school helped with this determination as well. They really worked with students. They changed the grading scale to make it easier for students to receive credits, they awarded students COVID funding for personal hardships, and they offered online mental and educational services to every student at any time. I think UIC should continue to make more of these types of considerate decisions as we go back to pre-pandemic life.