Our academic, or pandemic, year!

How the pandemic is affecting the lives of students

Even as a child I was aware that university would not be a breeze. Not only would I have to study courses above and beyond anything I had experienced until then, these four years could very well decide my future, requiring intense hard work and effort on my part. I expected to face several obstacles throughout my time in university, from failed quizzes and exams to ‘accidentally’ missed classes, from unnecessarily strict professors to getting next to no sleep.

What I did not expect, however, was for a global pandemic to hit halfway through my first year which would turn everything upside down.

The impact of the virus has not been limited to people’s health. The resulting lockdown has affected every facet of human society — the global economy is in tatters, people are being laid off, and so on. Like everyone else, students have had their fair share of problems, some of which uniquely affect them.

There is of course the obvious problem that arises from schools and colleges shutting down — students running behind on their education, particularly since the lockdown came into effect, with almost three months left until the end of semester. The workaround of online classes via the Zoom app is hardly sufficient. The alternative has its own problems. The first and most important problem is of course the online part of it: internet is a perennial issue all over the country, even in a metropolitan city like Lahore. Secondly, with everyone online at the same time it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some students will fail to join the class. I have lost count of the number of times I have been disconnected midway through a meeting, or how often I get messages from my fellow students inquiring what was taught since they couldn’t attend the class.

And if the stories I have heard from my friends in other universities are anything to go by, the students play their part in disrupting the online classes. And the less said about how comprehensible these classes are, the better!

Moving on from the very obvious problems that online classes entail, there are complications aplenty, such as those faced by the graduating batch, or those that were due to take their exams during this time. Not only will these students no longer have the opportunity to take their exams the normal way, some will have to make do with online exams in order to graduate. Many have had their exams postponed until the pandemic passes.

Furthermore, going by what my juniors at my former high school say, their A Level exams will now be held in October, which brings with it a whole plethora of problems. Since most universities, not just in Pakistan but the world over, will not allow students to get in until they have taken their A Level exams, the students will have to spend an extra year in order to graduate and get into universities. And it is not a stretch to imagine that FSc students will be in the same boat, having to sit at home with no prospects of graduating in the immediate future.

While their education prospects look bleak, other parts of students’ lives aren’t any better. Having to sit at home all day, with only a few hours of classes to break the monotony, is not good for anyone’s mental or physical health. Add to it the restrictions regarding leaving the house and socializing and it is for sure a recipe for disaster.

All in all, the entire process of worrying and brooding over the situation, coupled with the distress the students feel about their academic years, it is easy to understand why they are going through a tough and trying time, peculiar to them only.

The writer is pursuing a bachelors’ degree in computer science at the University of Lahore. He can be reached at [email protected]

Our academic, or pandemic, year!