Online-only students weigh in on their unique semester

Bron Bourque, a UK freshman, poses for a portrait taken over FaceTime on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Lauren Campbell

UK is offering a mixture of in-person and online instruction to students this semester with the majority of UK students experiencing both online and in-person instruction. However, several UK students, who would have taken their classes in-person under normal circumstances, are taking all of their classes online.


Bron Bourque, a freshman majoring in human health sciences/pre-dental, only takes virtual courses.


The classes Bourque originally registered for switched to online and didn’t give him the option to go in-person. Because of this, he’s had trouble feeling connected to the UK community.


“Being a freshman and taking online classes, I am not really able to connect with the UK community. Unfortunately, I have not joined any clubs at this time. I plan on joining many when I attend in-person classes,” said Bourque.


While he wishes he could feel more connected, Bourque says overall, virtual classes have its pros and cons.


“I prefer being able to use my notes on some virtual tests. Overall though, virtual classes are a lot more difficult for me because I really prefer talking to my teachers face to face. I am very concerned that I am not learning the material I should be because I don’t really need to try as hard. In other words, I always have access to Google,” said Bourque.


Bourque has visited UK’s campus this semester to see friends, but is living at home in western Kentucky to save money.


Andrea Evans, a student in UK’s One Year MBA program, chose to do all virtual classes this semester to protect herself from COVID-19.


“I don’t go around people without masks on, and I’m not going to… I never plan on going to campus because I don’t want to be around a student population that I’ve personally seen that does not abide by the CDC guidelines,” Evans said. “The one time I did go to campus this summer was to turn in a test… and the professor literally said out loud, ‘Which one of your roommates tested positive for COVID?’ And I was like, ‘Oh great, I’m glad you let that person come in-person to turn in their test’.”


Evans’ MBA program started this summer when students’ only option was to attend classes online, which she prefers. 


“Everyone did their classes online, all the professors were in the classroom and everyone was just on Zoom, and it was fantastic. We could see the professors speaking. The professors didn’t need to wear masks, because no one else was in the classroom. We could see them speaking and could hear everyone else,” Evans said.


This semester, Evans’ classes are presented in a hybrid format, so while she attends her classes virtually, some of her classmates are in-person, which has created difficulties.


“This semester has been kind of a disaster. There are still microphone issues, there’s still desks that don’t have microphones. So I’m doing all online and every single class I literally have to unmute Zoom and say, ‘Hey, we didn’t hear what that person just said, can you please repeat that’,” said Evans.


However, Evans is involved in group projects that require her to leave the house to complete. While her group has worn masks and followed the CDC social distancing guidelines every time they’ve met, Evans says some of her classmates in other groups complain their group members aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. 


“I want there to be changes so everyone can be safe. Luckily my group is pretty cool [in terms of social distancing], but in [other classmates’] groups, they say, ‘I’m the only one that really cares about COVID’… It just sort of alienates them, when the school should come in and just say, no in-person anything to protect the students and the experience,” Evans said.


Some students who initially had in-person classes found that their formats changed over time.


When Jacob Christian, a junior Business Administration student who transferred this semester from BCTC, first registered for classes this semester most of his classes were in-person. But as  it got closer to the semester, all of his in-person classes were changed to virtual.


“At first when I made my schedule in July I had four classes in-person, two online. But as time went on, they all went to online,” said Christian.


Because this is Christian’s first year as a UK student, he hasn’t gotten the chance to get involved on campus.


“Being a transfer student I never really got connected. I knew a lot of people already that go to UK from high school. We play Xbox or meet up and spend time together, but as far as making new friends or joining clubs I haven’t done much of either,” Christian said. “I also have two jobs that take much of my time away from the possibility of connecting with people through the University of Kentucky.” 


However, Christian still prefers virtual learning because of convenience.


“I do prefer the online to in-person because it saves almost an hour of my day from driving back and forth to Lexington,” said Christian.


Franky Sanchez, another BCTC transfer student majoring in biology, also prefers virtual courses. However, it has caused him to rely on help from outside sources.


“I think this situation has affected me as a student by having me rely more on outside sources such as Crash Course and Khan Academy to learn new materials,” said Sanchez. 


Sanchez hasn’t gotten involved on campus either, but plans to if classes go back to normal.


“Perhaps I would be more involved in the science-related clubs and activities [if I had in-person classes], but this lockdown and quarantine online classes do have their benefits,” Sanchez said. “I don’t have to waste time driving to campus and back from campus.”