Wake up. Brush your teeth. Get ready for school. Check your emails. Fill out a health survey. Get your temperature checked before walking onto campus. For many students across the country, this is the new norm.
Ask Jeremy Korie, 25, a senior at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). He will tell you this is his everyday routine while trying to graduate during the global pandemic. Korie is a Computer Engineering major who has been infatuated with computers and technology his whole life. From taking them apart to putting them together, Korie says he can do it all.
For Korie and possibly many others in a technology focused major, COVID-19 has reassured him that he has chosen the right path. He wants to work in a computer-based field after graduation, so seeing the world depend solely on technology to survive everyday life gives him a glimpse at what the foreseeable future may look like.
“COVID basically showed that technology is needed for almost anything. Without it, there would be no Zoom calls. There would be no remote classes,” Korie said.
Even though Korie is convinced he made the right choice for his major, he said it is hard to stay motivated sometimes. Like many students, he feels isolated because he cannot have roommates on campus. The learning is quite different. He said a few of his professors are nervous due to fears of teaching face-to-face.
“You grow up your whole life doing all your work in school, in-person, and out of nowhere, it’s like you’re forced to do everything remotely. It’s not the same,” Korie said. He added, “In my case, it’s harder to focus. It’s too much stuff going on to remember each time for multiple classes, and then you’re not really learning stuff directly.”
According to the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, which surveyed more than 40,000 college students at 118 U.S. institutions and nearly 10 thousand faculty members, 70 percent of students preferred mostly or complete face-to-face instruction environments, while 73 percent of professors preferred face-to-face classes.
Korie, is still in search of his new norm, but is determined to get the job done. What works for him is going to the gym and listening to his favorite music when not studying for classes. Despite the circumstances, Korie said he has come too far to let anything stop him now. That extra dedication and effort is even noticed by his friends on campus.
“I’ve seen him take summer classes and work hard every break to pay off classes to graduate. He made it this far and nothing is in his way from getting his degree,” said 23-year-old Criminal Justice Major Shaquille Smith.
This experience has impacted Korie so much, he feels like he could give a lecture helping other students who might have questions about how to stay motivated when faced with adversity. If he could drive home one point though, that point would be simple: keep up with what is going on with COVID-19 while also staying focused on the task at hand.