A student's laptop open to Today@Dean while online learning at Dean College

Across the United States and the world, students in every grade level are transitioning to online learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Here at Dean College, our students, faculty and staff are navigating the waters of the digital college experience. We spoke to Theatre major, Elizabeth Carsley ’21 to get a student’s perspective on the transition.

How has the transition to online learning been for you? 

Elizabeth: The transition to online learning has been difficult, but it’s getting easier every day. Many of the classes that I’m enrolled in are not easily transferred to an online platform – as is the case for many of my fellow theatre majors, dance majors and for students taking classes that require more hands-on learning. Fortunately, my professors have been incredibly understanding and are doing everything they can to help make the transition as easy as possible for us, which I very much appreciate.

How do you make the most out of your time online learning? 

Elizabeth: Most of my classes consist of assignments posted to MyCourses with attached deadlines and forums for class discussion/participation. In order to keep track of my upcoming papers, projects, meetings and assignments I have created a color-coded schedule for each day to make sure I’m getting my work in on time. Whenever I have a question my professors are quick to respond. One of my professors recently created a weekly check-in meeting with our class on Zoom, just to make sure everyone’s staying safe and to give us a chance to see our classmates. 

What is your daily schedule like? 

Elizabeth: Admittedly, my sleep schedule is ridiculous right now. My circadian rhythm is a mess, but when I do get up, the first thing I do is make coffee and check my Dean email before logging in to MyCourses. I usually complete about half of my work for the day before taking a break to walk my dog. When I get back, I finish my work and find something to keep me occupied for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve been playing the piano, cleaning/rearranging my room and last weekend I binge-watched seasons 4 and 5 of Peaky Blinders within approximately 24 hours. 

How are you coping with being at home? Is there something you like to do every day that makes the transition easier? 

Elizabeth: I have never been someone who does particularly well with change, so it’s taken a little while to adjust. I’m lucky because my parents are very good company, and they share similar interests with me – but I miss my friends, professors and directors so much. I’ve been watching movies, taking my dog for lots of walks, learning how to cook and cleaning out my house to keep me busy. Doing my schoolwork also helps to keep things feeling more normal. 

How have you set up your workspace? 

Elizabeth: Currently, I have been working from my dining room table. My Mom is a middle school teacher, so she’s been very busy creating online materials for her students. I work from one end of the table, and she works from the other. It’s nice to have some company while I do my work! 

What advice do you have for your peers going through the same thing right now? 

Elizabeth: This is a difficult time for all of us, and everyone’s situation is unique. In terms of school, the best advice I can give is to try to stick to a schedule. That’s what’s been the most helpful to me. 

The students, faculty and staff of Dean College are a very close-knit and supportive group of individuals. That doesn’t change, even when we’re spread out all over the world. My advice for my fellow students is to remember to support each other and keep in touch when possible. Do your best to support local businesses when you have the chance and do your part by continuing to practice social distancing.