Students’ Insights on the Start of Fall Semester

Oct 14, 2020

This fall semester started like no other fall semester ever has.

At a time when students are figuring out what their life after graduation may look like, they, along with everyone else, have been thrown a curve ball with Covid-19. But many LSBE students have been scaling up their resiliency and have been learning how to hit that curve ball—some even to the back wall.

Two students who have taken on not only their classes but also heading up high profile experiential opportunities—Accounting Club and the Entrepreneurship Conference—offer some insight on how they have been dealing with the start of fall semester.

But they each emphasize that one thing is vitally important for success in both their academics and leading their student groups—communication.

 “I think everyone can agree that the start of the fall semester has been nothing less than hectic,” said Kaleb Mether, a junior and an Accounting and Finance double major. “But it has already taught all of us more about being able to adapt to new circumstances on a daily basis.

Kaleb Mether
Kaleb Mether

The change to online learning has definitely necessitated that students adjust their learning style.

“I would say that I’ve realized I need to put more effort into my studies in general, due to the virtual modality,” said Mether. “In order to succeed, I know I will need to be more attentive and take descriptive notes during the Zoom lectures, that way I can study more intensively for the exams.

“I also need to be better about really thoroughly reading the assigned texts for those courses, and making sure that I understand the small details, in addition to just the main ideas.  I have also improved upon getting in contact with my professors via online methods, such as the simple email. Being that I can’t always just ask a question to them after class, like I would in person, I have to be more willing to reach out to them and ask those questions.

Keeping a consistent schedule, which is assisted by having an on-campus job” has been beneficial, added Mether.  “Now that I have my schedule memorized between classes and work, I feel more adapted to the online learning.”

“Online classes are tough, there is no argument there,” said Morgan Hess a senior who is double majoring in Professional Sales and Marketing. “It is difficult to hold yourself accountable while staring at a computer screen for 8 to 10 hours a day.”

Hess noted that classes that involve group projects will be the most difficult. “It has proven to be much more difficult to hold each other accountable for projects and tasks when you never have to actually meet face-to-face,” she said.

 “I think that in order to tackle these classes head on, it is important to maintain as much communication as possible. We have been able to schedule zoom meetings, create groups on social media, and use texting as a fairly efficient way to communicate with each other. Constantly keeping in touch with your group members and professors is a great way to stay on top of things.”

Check out Mether’s and Hess’s tips for success with online learning at the end of the story.

Morgan Hess
Morgan Hess

Of course the change in teaching modalities along with following the safety precautions for the pandemic have added to the students’ typical college stressors.

“In my opinion, the stress of college is usually counterbalanced by the fun activities and interactions provided by the university,” said Hess. “When you take away all of those stress-reducing activities and social interactions, college becomes mentally draining.”

Enjoying Duluth’s natural beauty and all that the area offers for outdoor activities have been go-to stress relievers for many students as have some other activities. Mether likes to “hang out with friends and family (within guidelines of course), and roommates. I also like getting out into nature, whether exploring or just chilling in my hammock.”

“I try to go for a run or a walk every day to unwind, get fresh air, and relax,” said Hess.  “I don’t always have time to do a lot of fun things in a day, but I make it a rule that I get outside at least once during the day. I also find that watching a light-hearted TV show can help take my mind off of everything for a little while.”

In addition to being students, Mether and Hess are leaders within two student-led initiatives. Mether is the Accounting Club president, and Hess is the coordinator of marketing and graphic design for the Entrepreneurship Conference.

The focal point of the Accounting Club and primary responsibility for Mether is the coordination of accounting firm recruiters to come to campus to speak to the members, which currently numbers 15 to 20 students, about the profession.

“This semester, all of the accounting firms are willing to give virtual presentations via multiple platforms,” said Mether “I’ll have an email sent to all of the accounting students which informs with who will be presenting, when, and how to access the meeting. Our Facebook group is also the location for event and other announcements.”

“As an incentive, some presenters are offering things such as Grub Hub gift cards to the first number of students that join our meetings.”

“Basically, the entire Entrepreneurship Conference this year will be unique due to the circumstances!” said Hess. “Foremost is that the conference will be a virtual Zoom webinar. This has required all of our team members to do a lot of brainstorming in order to make it all work.

“We meet virtually as a group—there are six of us—once a week, but we have many additional meetings throughout the week for conference planning over Zoom. Our team includes coordinators who work with finance, PR, event day management, human resources, and speaker selection along with what I do for marketing and graphic design.

“We have had to conduct a lot of research to learn how to keep efficient and clear communication pathways between our team members, our speakers, and potential sponsors,” added Hess. “We use a lot of Google docs, sheets, and calendars to keep everyone on track and make sure we are all looking at the same information. We have done a lot of researching, planning, and implementing to create a conference we are confident will be successful.”

“I think the most unique thing about this semester is just the fact that it can all be done from the desk in my bedroom,” said Hess. “But no matter how much professors and students try to make it similar to in-person instruction, there is a key component to our education that we are just missing right now. Many people, business majors specifically, thrive on social interaction.”

 “The start of fall semester has taught us to be more mindful of those around us, and it has shown us that we will be able to overcome the difficulties and get back to normal at some point,” said Mether.

Added Hess, “It has been difficult to adjust, but I am grateful to be a part of such a revolutionary time.”

ONLINE LEARNING TIPS

From Kaleb Mether

  • Get involved in clubs, whether it’s a means of socializing or connecting with external individuals. The Accounting Club is always open to new members and ideas.
  • Identify classmates that you know from previous classes or clubs, and form study groups or groups for projects (when allowed) in your current classes.
  • Ask for help when you need it! Everyone’s still getting used to this whole online learning at their own pace.
  • Stay ahead or at least up-to-date on assignments or readings in your classes. I know personally how quickly you can fall behind / feel behind.

From Morgan Hess

  • Have a designated workspace that you can use for online classes and working on assignments. This creates a little bit of structure and routine within my day and helps train my brain to focus in a new environment.
  • Get dressed in the morning just like you would for class! I know that nobody wants to do this, but if I stay in my sweatpants all day, I will never find the motivation and focus I need to get through the day productively.
  • Take study breaks. Trying to focus on a computer for hours on end can be counterproductive for me, I like to take a little break every 30-45 minutes so I don’t wear myself out.
  • Use a planner or some sort of calendar to keep track of assignments. It is so easy to miss assignments from professors when they aren’t there to tell me to do it. I like to plan out my week every Monday, so I know exactly what needs to get done each week.