Jordan Garcia
Copy Editor

The year 2020 has probably been the most dystopian-like year the young adult population has ever experienced. However, jokes aside, the issue of mental health is more relevant than ever and is currently affecting most students across the USA.

In a poll taken on Quaker Campus’s Instagram, students were posed the question: “Has distanced-learning negatively affected your mental health?” 81% of the 64 students who responded voted ‘yes.’

There was also a second poll, which asked: “Have online classes decreased your productivity?” This poll resulted in 95% of students responding ‘yes.’ Although this is a small sample of the entire student body at Whittier College, it, nonetheless, speaks to the state of mind that the majority of the students currently possess.

Tori O’Campo / Quaker Campus

Some students further elaborated their reasoning for responding to the poll.

“What I’ve been seeing is that there are students, especially me, who are very unmotivated this [second] fall module. Zoom burnout is still something students are going through. [. . .] There is no motivational drive,” said  third-year student Alyssa Armstrong, ASWC Student Body Representative and WCtheRock Director. “For me, I work on campus along with school. It most likely is a ‘me’ problem since I am a ‘yes’ person. I am heavily packed with meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays; the rest of the week is tiring for me.”

“The module system isn’t working because, despite the professors’ efforts to condense their courses, there is still an overload [of] work to do,” said third-year student Yasmin Isabel Mendoza, Publicity Coordinator for Alpha Psi Omega and Vice President of Sigma Tau Delta. “Seven weeks is not enough time to learn anything, especially in writing intensive classes. There is no easy solution for students who have to produce the work, and professors who have to quickly grade the work.”

After reading these responses from my fellow students, it felt like they were reading my mind.  I can personally say I did actually feel motivated at the beginning of the Modular System, and was even a little excited. However, as the second week of the Modular System hit, I began to lose my motivation and feel overwhelmed from how fast everything was moving.

I am a senior this year and will be graduating Spring 2021. I definitely did not imagine my and many other student’s senior year at Whittier College to operate as it is currently. The speed at which my classes were and are going are almost as bad, if not worse, than Jan Term classes.

Normally at Whittier College, students only have to experience such acceleration once a year, and both professors and students are aware that it is not possible to learn everything in such a short amount of time. With the Modular System, the student body is expected to retain and learn everything all at once in these short seven-week periods, one right after the other, instead of having to endure it for a short three-week period. “Most are unhappy with this situation, and it’s a shame we have to do spring the same way — with no breaks once again,” said Mendoza.

Having to attend class at home, at least for me, has been extremely counterproductive.  Doing all my work in my bedroom has caused me to no longer view my room as a place to escape and relax. This is due to me my room being my classroom, work space, and place of rest all at the same time. I personally don’t have a desk in my room; therefore, most of my work is done on my bed, which causes me to have the temptation to simply lay down and grab my phone rather than be motivated to accomplish all I need to do for the day. If I were in a classroom surrounded by my fellow classmates and, of course, the professor, I definitely would not be in my pajamas or scrolling through Twitter or Instagram; instead, I would be completely focused and taking notes.

“Zoom burnout is still something students are going through. Online learning comes with its challenges such as test taking, note taking, lectures,” said Armstrong. “More challenges include WiFi, home environment, personal obligations such as work and family lifestyle.” I honestly have lost motivation for taking notes because one of my classes is recorded, which further decreases my motivation to actually attend the class. It is so easy and tempting to sleep right until a morning class begins because I am so tired, and I have even almost fallen asleep during a lecture. This is because I do not need to get up early to get ready and physically leave my house for the class.

The threat of a deadline sometimes replaces even eating oftentimes for me. Due to my classes being scheduled  one after the other, I will wake up, go to my classes that are from morning to afternoon, do work, and end up not eating until late afternoon most days. “Right now, self-care is very important to everyone. Knowing we are all at home, there’s a pressure of not practicing self-care and doing work since ‘we are all at home, we should be able to do it at any time,’” said Armstrong.

There are only so many hours in the day, which makes the preconceived notion that we have the convenience of ‘having time to do things whenever we want,’ not be as convenient as it sounds. Despite the pandemic not being the fault of any of the student body, we are, in a way, self-sabotaging by learning at home. By making our places of relaxation our one-stop shop for everything we do throughout the day, our personal spaces are no longer special and serve as an environment that does not motivate us whatsoever.

I was going through my camera roll the other day, and I came across a picture I took of myself with my Presidential election voting sticker. I looked completely happy with a normal smile on my face when, in reality, I had just been laying in my bed crying for two hours, completely overwhelmed by school work, my job, and other personal problems. It is very easy to hide our struggles, especially through people’s postings online.

Although it is not affecting everyone in the same way, students’ mental health is at risk. The lack of socializing and accountability that comes from actively getting up and driving, walking, or biking to class and work, causes one to feel as if they are trapped. With this added stress of accelerated classes and online learning, the days can seem to repeat, one after the other, over and over again.

In a wonderfully written article written by Whittier College third-year Mercedes Brookins entitled “It Can Feel Like Drowning,” Brookins explores the effects of distance learning and even interviews fellow Poets. She, herself, posted a poll on Instagram, posing the question: “Would you say the pandemic has had a negative impact on your mental health?” She states that 88% responded ‘yes.’ As you can see, despite there being some students who don’t seem to be as affected by online distance learning, a significant percentage of them are.

This time of year, especially with Thanksgiving literally being next week, should be a time where we are all excited to eat and enjoy time with family and friends. Obviously, that is not going to be the case for most this year. Therefore, it is very important to seek resources to help improve mental health this holiday season and even beyond that.

Never dismiss how you feel. If you feel downcast, seek help. Mercedes Brookins recommends contacting Whittier College Counseling Center, where students can seek counseling.  Take advantage of the resources you do have, and seek further help if you need it. Be as honest as you can with your professors. If there is ever a time they should be understanding or expect these kinds of comments from students, it is now. Even if it does not get you any more extra time, it does not hurt to ask.

The most important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself and never view asking for help as a negative thing. No matter where you are, or who you are with this holiday season, I personally wish all my fellow students at Whittier College a happy and healthy holiday season.

Feature image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus

Author

  • Jordan Garcia has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2020, and is currently a Copy Editor and part-time writer. She enjoys reading, listening to music (mostly KPop), crocheting, and wishing she could get to Narnia through her own magic wardrobe.

Jordan Garcia has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2020, and is currently a Copy Editor and part-time writer. She enjoys reading, listening to music (mostly KPop), crocheting, and wishing she could get to Narnia through her own magic wardrobe.
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