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COVID-19: Students’ perspective on studying online

Some time during this academic year, our second-year student Iris came up with an idea to create a little survey and see how students feel about studying online.

First-year students started university completely online, while the second-years’ got a glimpse of real university experience in their first semester. We wanted to see if there are any differences in the experience. Overall, we hoped to get an idea of what people thought about this way of attending university, what they liked and what they missed.

Now that the year is over, it is the time to share the results.

We asked the students what is the biggest advantage of working online for them.

Recorded lectures, saving time on travelling and overall flexibility in how they organise their day were some of the answers students leaned towards the most

Biggest advantages of online learning

We further asked about their studying and working habits.

Majority of the students said they work best in the mornings, followed by those who work best in the afternoon.

Best time to study

Only two students mentioned they became more efficient while studying online. Equal parts said their efficiency hasn’t changed or they had the impression they became less efficient.

Working efficiency during the pandemic

We were also curious about the social aspect of studying online.

Majority of people said they spend time with other students outside of lectures. This is rather encouraging, considering strict lockdown measures that were put in place for a long time in the Netherlands. While not all students were present in Tilburg, social time outside lectures happened online as well, with zoom calls and chats.

We were also interested to see what students missed the most about going to the university.

Social support, in-person lectures and hanging out is what we all missed the most during the pandemic. It was a weird feeling finishing the lecture, exiting the zoom call and instead of talking with fellow students, we would continue working on other assignments or just sit in a quiet room all by ourselves.

And while sometimes that might be helpful or necessary to take time for yourself, being on your own without the social support of your peers can be lonely and tiring.

When asked about the biggest challenges of studying online, this is what students said:

“Blurred lines between the work and leisure time. Because there is nothing to do or nowhere to go, it feels like we should constantly be ready to work”

“Not being able to discuss material with other students, share struggles, and motivate and push one another.”

“Staying focused during the lectures, after hours of being behind your laptop…it can be hard”

This year has challenged us in more ways than we could have expected. But throughout it all we pulled through. Regardless of not being together, the social network we have created has helped us stay motivated to finish this year. We were building friendships in a new way and made each other laugh.

Also, a big thank you to all of our professors who helped us a lot during this year. They were full of understanding, patience and worked hard to make it the best experience, considering the circumstances. And they were here as a big social support, too.

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