Are You Thinking About Going Back to School During COVID-19?

Are You Thinking About Going Back to School During COVID-19?

The decision of going back to school is never an easy one, but COVID-19 has made the choice even more complicated. Most colleges have either moved to online classes or drastically changed the look of their in-person classes. Safety is an obvious and important thing to consider during COVID-19, but you also need to think about how you learn and what special requirements your program might have. How do I know if I should be thinking about going back to school during COVID-19?

First, a brief guide to some of the new jargon you might see during your research.

asynchronous – online classes that do not meet at required times
f2f – face-to-face learning, or in-person learning
hybrid learning – classes with online and in-person components
LMS – learning management system (Blackboard, Canvas, etc.)
synchronous – online classes that do meet at required times

How has higher education changed during COVID-19?

Thinking about going back to school during COVID-19? You might only be taking classes online for some schools.
Image courtesy of Philippe Bout on Unsplash.

As you can imagine, colleges and universities have had to make a lot of changes to protect students and make learning accessible during the pandemic. Most four-year and graduate schools in North Carolina now offer online and in-person classes. Instead of a few sections per subject area, you can now easily find most courses in an online format. The major exception is UNC – Chapel Hill, which has gone fully online—at least through the fall semester.

Surprisingly, COVID-19 has not decreased enrollment at most schools. In North Carolina, almost all schools have either matched last year’s enrollment or increased enrollment. Many students are returning because online classes make it easier to fit school into their schedules. Like enrollment, tuition rates have remained steady, but covering the cost while working full-time is easier with asynchronous courses.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous: What’s best for me?

One of the biggest changes to higher education during COVID-19 is how online classes are delivered. The first and biggest question is whether the class is asynchronous or synchronous.

Asynchronous classes are great for flexibility because you can work at your own pace. They can be difficult for students who learn best by interacting with professors, though. You should also avoid asynchronous classes if you have a hard time with self-motivation.

Thinking about going back to school during COVID-19? Are you comfortable working completely online?
Image courtesy of Vlada Karpovich from Pexels.

Synchronous learning options are offered at many universities and are more common for graduate classes. These classes are less flexible, but you get to meet with your professor and peers on a regular basis. This can be a better environment for students who like to talk through things or see live demonstrations.

You might notice that many classes with labs, or classes in technical trades, are meeting in-person or with a hybrid format. Many colleges understand that labs and hands-on programs like aeronautic mechanics need to meet in person at times. Check with your local college to see which programs continue to require in-person classes.

How do I know what my college or university is doing to address COVID-19?

Most colleges have a page or section of their website that outlines their COVID-19 response. This should answer questions about learning formats, class sizes, and safety measures. Get familiar with the changes at your local college to best answer your questions about going back to school during COVID-19.

What are schools in NC doing to respond to COVID-19?

Appalachian State University

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

North Carolina State University

East Carolina University

Duke University

North Carolina Community Colleges

NC.gov also offers information about higher education and state assistance for those returning to school during COVID.

For more information about North Carolina colleges and universities, please visit our College tag. To learn why some students in North Carolina chose not to return to school this year, check out our education tag.