Managing an online school schedule

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Sophomore Mitchell Schuessler had the rest of his college years planned out. However, Covid-19 had other plans for him.

“I was commuting to IUPUI and still living at home with my parents. I had just gotten closer to some friends who were going to Ball State though, and we had planned for me to move in with them during the summer and transfer schools,” Schuessler said. “I was working at a local gym to save up money to move out but when COVID hit, my hours at work got cut tremendously. Due to this, I was unable to save up enough money to be able to move out and my plans to transfer to Ball State were ruined.”

Schuessler, who is enrolled in five classes at IUPUI this semester, was disappointed at first but tried to keep a positive attitude about the situation. Ultimately, he was able to find the silver lining.

“I knew that everyone was handling the pandemic the best that they possibly could and while it was upsetting, I felt lucky to be able to keep my job in general after hearing tons of stories and knowing many people who completely lost their jobs,” Schuessler said. “I’m also happy I ended up staying at IUPUI because the way they have handled the virus has been really well. Students can tell the staff really cares about them and that they are doing everything they can to ensure students are safe. I couldn’t imagine being at any other university.”

Instead of having their work hours cut due to the pandemic, some students, such as junior Ashley Brown, have struggled with having too many. This leaves them with little to no time for school. 

“I’m taking four online classes and I TA for four class sections as well, which adds up to 18 credit hours this semester. I also have a job at a grocery store, and it was a lot trying to keep up with all of those classes plus a work schedule, Brown said. “I’ve taken online classes before here and there so the setup is nothing new to me. I just feel as if having all online classes makes it more difficult and I have to really focus at home, which can be hard to do.” 

A few weeks into the semester Brown looked into a student leave program, which allows her to either not work for the whole semester but keep her job, or to come in whenever she is available. She essentially gets to create her own schedule.

“It’s been really nice being able to be a part of the program because I felt as if so much stress was lifted off of my shoulders,” Brown said. “Trying to keep up with my work schedule didn’t leave me as much time as I needed for school work and I was constantly feeling overwhelmed. Finding out about student leave was a lifesaver.”

There are some students who lucked out and have figured out how to have a healthy balance between their work and school lives amid the virus.  

“This semester I’m taking 15 credit hours while also having a job at a nursing home doing office work. My parents technically run it so they know how tough school can be and are very flexible with my schedule,” junior Chandler Warnick said. “School has been taking up more of my time this semester since all of my classes but one are online due to COVID-19. I have to work harder and pay more attention to detail. There are lots of distractions compared to being in a classroom too. It’s nice having a workplace that understands how exhausting COVID and online learning are for students.”

While he is balancing work and school well, Warnick is finding himself stressed out in other areas of his life. 

“Trying to make time with family and friends is more difficult now. Now that I’m home all the time, my family thinks I have the time to be involved more when I really can’t,” Warnick said. There are times when my younger siblings want me to come out of my room to watch a movie or do other things with them and I’ll have to explain that just because I’m home a lot more doesn’t mean I don’t have as much work to do.”

Students are learning the importance of boundaries and making sure they have time to themselves to decompress during these stressful times. 

“During quarantine I was alone so much that it drove me crazy,” Brown said. “I’m a naturally social person, so going back to school and work excited me. After a while I realized that I need to not go overboard and still have that alone time. Now I make sure I have one to two nights a week to just do the hobbies that I enjoy.”

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