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CSULB students struggle with growing number of online classes, deemed ‘absolute hell’

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, only 4% of Long Beach State’s courses were held fully online. Now, that same number represents the classes being held face to face — a transition that has significantly affected the student body, according to campus administration.

 

“During this time, everyone has been impacted by the pandemic,” Jody Cormack, vice provost for academic programs and dean of graduate studies, said. “We have heard from many students who are impacted due to job loss, health emergencies and family situations. Not one issue has been the same.”

 

In the fall of 2019, 370 sections were held fully online, 214 were hybrid and 8,597 were face to face. A year later, those numbers flipped and nearly 9,000 sections were held remotely, 207 were face to face and 29 hybrid.

 

This spring, about 8,200 are being held online and just 108 are face to face.

 

With the vast majority of classes being held virtually, many students have expressed that they’ve been struggling with their education.

 

Roxy Mendoza, a third-year psychology major, said she feels like she is “not learning anything” through remote instruction, especially as a recent transfer student. She said she feels like she “lost her college experience to Zoom.”

 

“I feel like I’m only going to class to get a passing grade instead of actually learning the material,” Mendoza said. “At this point I’m so frustrated I’m trying to graduate a semester early so I don’t have to deal with online learning.”

 

Celine Trinh, a third-year psychology major, said that her motivation has been most affected by the lack of on-campus classes and feels additional stress and uncertainty during this time.

 

“It’s a lot harder to keep track of everything and stay focused when I don’t have to follow a certain routine,” Trinh said. “I feel quite helpless and hopeless at times because online learning doesn’t feel like I’m learning.”

 

Though 108 courses were approved to be held on campus beginning Jan. 19 for spring 2021, Provost Brian Jersky delayed their start date first to Feb. 1 and again until March 1 due to coronavirus-related concerns.

 

As of Monday, Feb. 22, these courses have been officially cleared to come on campus starting next week on March 1.

 

Only students already enrolled in the minimally approved face-to-face classes will return to campus; all others will continue with alternative modes of instruction.

 

“This welcome trend is giving us a hopeful glimpse that life is starting to slowly return to normal,” Provost Brian Jersky said in a campus-wide email. “It also reminds us all that we need to keep our guard up in these coming months to continue this positive trend.”

 

Administrators project there will be a slight increase in campus-goers this spring compared to the roughly 1,000 individuals last fall.

 

CSULB is likely to see 1,108 people daily this semester, about 1,031 of whom are students and 77 faculty, according to data provided by Lizzet Rojas, data and program analyst for student success.

 

Students have been vocal about wishing to return to campus, including second-year engineering major Rani Hanna, who feels it is “unfair to the students who just don’t have the resources at home to expect to learn at the same pace.”

 

“This is absolutely hell,” Hanna said. “Honestly if our departments aren’t fully in person next fall I’m gonna cry. Everybody needs to be back on campus.”

 

The minimal classes approved to be held in person include lab classes, art classes and other hands-on environments.

 

Nikolas Pourghahreman, a second-year pre-industrial design major, said his major relies “heavily on physical class” though no industrial design courses are being offered in person this spring.

 

As an art student, Pourghahreman feels that he is losing out on valuable experience working with “saws, mills and other various shop tools” as he and his classmates no longer have access to these materials.

 

“I worry that I won’t be as prepared for the design field, as those in years before me had a much more expansive education and those after me will have a more traditional experience,” Pourghahreman said. “The pandemic has created an uncertain present time, but I believe for some it will have grave impacts on their future, myself included.”

 

Cormack maintained that university administrators have been working to address these issues, particularly Enrollment Services, who has been “actively working” with students who have been impacted with regard to employment, health or family issues.

 

She said that the campus remains in the process of determining the amount of in-person courses for fall 2021 and awaits approval from “all stakeholders.”

 

“On our campus, we bolstered and expanded online advising, reached out to students who seem to be struggling in their courses and have expanded our emergency individual class withdrawals for students who need it,” Cormack said.

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