by Breanna Adamick
There has been a little something new for everyone to experience at Greensboro College this fall semester, whether they realized it or not. The incoming freshman class, of course, was welcomed into the Pride community and has been acclimating to the whole new way of life they have as college students. Returning students have likely had an easier time of it, since we have had at least a year, or multiple years, to adjust to college and the Greensboro College lifestyle. Then again, there were noticeable changes to the schedule this semester that many returning students, myself included, have been quick to comment on.
For the past few years, the fall semesters at GC have begun around a rather consistent date. This year, we were thrown for somewhat of a loop. While normally the semester would begin anywhere around August 18 to 24, the end of summer took a sharp turn for many students – and faculty – this year when we all discovered the fall semester would begin August 9.
The first and biggest question was “why?” Why take away another week of our summer, a time we all value so much? I do not recall when I found out the answer to that burning question at the forefront of my mind, but when I did, I was at least somewhat pacified. The explanation I received was that the college made the decision to start the semester earlier in order to conclude the semester in its entirety before we all left for Thanksgiving, meaning no returning to school or online exams. We would finish exams and final projects at school and that would end the fall semester. Another possible benefit of the new format is a longer winter break time so that those who rely on jobs during the break would have more time before the start of spring semester.
Mixed opinions on this new format abound, as was evident in several interviews with fellow students. Cat Wright, a senior theatre major, stated that she has enjoyed the new schedule this semester.
“I think that starting a couple weeks earlier is worth the opportunity to have exams in-person and be finished before Thanksgiving,” Wright said. “I really struggle with online exams, and it is hard to do exam prep while also being home for Thanksgiving too.
“It is also more cost-effective for residential students who have to travel a long distance home for each holiday break. All around beneficial to many.” She concluded by saying that she definitely prefers this new schedule.
Meanwhile, junior psychology and art major, Jasmine Spero, expressed her dislike for the new semester format.
“I understand the reason we have it set up this way is because of COVID, but my argument is the same. Having us start so early cuts into our summer, which is a much-needed break for students and professors to reset their minds,” Spero said, “I also hate how we end so early … both professors and students have complained that they feel incredibly rushed and overwhelmed trying to finish their assignments in time. There has also been a noticeable decline in mental health … these past years that I have been here, and that seems to be getting worse this year especially. This schedule is not fair to anyone who has semester-based work to get done because everything goes by too fast. [We have] no time at all to enjoy our experiences.”
Spero concluded by stating that ultimately, her preference would be a pre-Covid schedule, such as a semester spanning late August to early December.
Third-year international English and geography education major, Annika Grund, explained her situation and thoughts on the semester layout, this being her first semester at GC.
“For me, starting early in August and leaving for a break at the end of November is a weird feeling, since I am normally going to college in Germany where we do not have spring and fall, but summer and winter semesters,” Grund said. “I came here on August 4, when technically my semester at home was still not finished. Three days before my flight to Greensboro I had to take my last exam and it was pretty stressful leaving home, coming here and not having any break at all. But it also has a good side.
“Since I will be done with this semester so early and the summer semester back home will not start until April, I will have a very long break in which I will have time to travel, work and relax a little before college starts again.”
My own opinion on this change of schedule takes another factor into account. The schedule itself does not irritate me, as I am perfectly happy to finish the fall semester before the holidays and have a worry-free month or two after that as a break. I would also be perfectly satisfied if that were not the case, and we either did exams online after Thanksgiving, or returned briefly to school to conclude everything.
What did bother me, however, was the method in which I had to find out about the date classes started, and therefore the new schedule. Having received no communication from the school whatsoever coming into August, I was somewhat baffled as I knew school would be starting at some point that month. Eventually, I decided to check my class schedule once again, since I had not done so for a while, and see my class times and locations. I was thoroughly shocked to discover that I had but a few days to prepare myself for the beginning of the semester. In talking to other students, I discovered I was not the only one to experience this.
It was a scramble from there, and my semester started in some semblance of chaos. Therefore, reflecting upon that time, I cannot say that I was, or have been, enthused about the schedule change. But this touches on a related issue, which has been another source of stress.
In the past, constant communication from the school’s different programs, organizations and offices has been hindered, to some extent. Students voiced complaints about the number of emails they were receiving on a daily or weekly basis. While they had a valid reason to express some annoyance, it is my feeling that their grievances were taken too much to heart.
I have heard from numerous people this semester about how they often do not know what is happening around campus – what events are occurring, how to get involved in organizations and events and simply what one can do on campus to have fun and take a break from homework. Some people stay partially in the loop by watching for flyers around campus and reading the Rafiki each Monday when it gets sent to our email. Others who miss those advertisements though, miss out on what has been happening, or only learn about events after the fact through posts on social media.
The main way I kept up to date on events at GC was through the GC app. In the handy little “events” tab, I could often go in and see all the upcoming events for each month and even click on them to set reminders on my phone. It seems like that form of communication has fallen by the wayside this semester, and I have found myself dearly missing it.
While it may not seem like such a big deal to some, I believe proper communication and forewarning about events and changes at Greensboro College are vitally important for participation and a sense of community. If we never truly know what is going on, how can we interact and get to know one another as well, or enjoy our experiences at GC to the utmost extent? It is my hope that these things should be a top priority in the coming semesters, whatever their start or end dates so that we can all make the most of our time together at Greensboro College.