Mixed reactions as U of S students prepare to log on for fall semester

The University of Saskatchewan's fall semester will be held completely online for most students.

The fall semester will be held completely online

Classes at the University of Saskatchewan will be completely virtual during the fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

Many high school students who graduated in spring 2020 will start their university careers the same way their high school year ended: online. 

The University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina will be offering most classes online for the fall semester. 

"I'm a little bit nervous about school, but I'm hopeful it's going to be good," first-year U of S student Emma Pierrard said.

Pierrard finished high school at Holy Cross in June and hopes to do an environmental science degree then go to law school. When the pandemic hit, Pierrard had already been accepted into the U of S for the fall. 

"I was kind of looking forward to getting acquainted with it," Pierrard said. "It's a little bit disappointing not to really get to see how everything works and to just kind of go straight into it online."

She has signed up for the online orientation the university is providing on Sept. 2. The orientation involves a welcome, breakout sessions and advice on motivation for online classes. 

"I feel like it'll be hard to stay motivated and to stay focused, especially because … I'm studying from home. So it's going to be hard to work to keep myself from getting distracted," Pierrard said.

Emma Pierrard finished high school at Holy Cross in June and hopes to do an environmental science degree then go to law school. (Submitted by Emma Pierrard)

Outside of online classes, there's a lot she will miss in her first year. 

"I was looking to join maybe some clubs in arts and science and get involved in some student leadership opportunities or something," Pierrard said. 

"I don't think there's going to be much at all for that."

Universities are offering chat rooms for students, but Pierrard said she'd prefer to meet other students face-to-face. 

Not all students are upset by the fully-online semester. Sarah Tut is a returning sociology and women and gender studies student at the University of Saskatchewan. 

She said it was confusing when the university did the sudden flip to online in the winter semester, but after taking some online classes, she said the transition is not that difficult for her. 

"I find it even beneficial to study online," Tut said. "It's not that complicated."

I have control over my learning experience.- Sarah Tut

Tut said for the upcoming fall semester, it will be tough to have less interpersonal community and there's a bit of a lack of one-on-one support. She noted it can be difficult if people don't have internet accessibility and or a working knowledge of computers. 

"For some people, it's a great opportunity to learn and learn a lot about things because now we're in the technology world and people should be able to learn a lot of things," Tut said. 

"But for other people, there would be a lot of issues, especially loneliness. People will be very lonely … because you miss interacting with other people."

However, Tut said she prefers online learning at times. 

"I have control over my learning experience," Tut said. "I find it very good because I can study anywhere." 

With files from Saskatoon Morning and Chelsea Laskowski