For more than 10,000 St. Thomas students, the past few weeks have looked drastically different than any of their previous times as Tommies.

Dozens of undergraduate students responded to a request to provide some insight into how the adjustments to a new normal of all online classes and social distancing has gone, answering questions about how they’ve made those adjustments, what some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced are, and what has been most helpful for them throughout this process. Below are some of their many responses.

Editor’s note: Based on students’ responses, only their years are included with their statements.

When we did switch to online learning, one of my main concerns was not being able to work on campus and make that money to help pay my tuition. It was a very pleasant surprise when President Sullivan sent out the email notifying us we would all continue to get paid. I’m very grateful for that.

-First-year

Adjusting to having family around 24/7, not having my own space is something that takes adjusting to. … It’s hard to find a place that’s somewhere I won’t be interrupted and distracted from the video aspects. My family’s always doing something, there’s always noise, but it’s still doable.

The most challenging thing for me has been the loss of my ability to participate in the music program. I play French horn, am in three different ensembles and have practices every day. … The social aspect of that is what I miss.

I know this is difficult for everyone. The university has been phenomenal, with professors and the administration, keeping students connected … but I can’t wait to get to the Arches again.

-Senior

Doing all my classes online is a big change, but throughout the past month and all the uncertainty with the COVID situation, the university has been doing a great job of communicating with students to keep us updated throughout the process. … I am really thankful to the administration for that; it’s made the whole situation less stressful. Our professors have had to make huge adjustments to their plans for the rest of the semester. … Our professors and administrators care about the health and well-being of the students, and that’s clearly their priority, so that has eased the transition. Professors and staff members are here for us and willing to support the students. I want to thank my professors and everyone at St. Thomas helping support the students and making this transition as easy as possible in this time of uncertainty and isolation. We appreciate that so much.

-First-year

I spent the first two months abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, which was amazing. In the course of about 30 hours went from family deciding they were not going to come visit me, to walking in the door of my family’s house in Minnesota.

-Junior

My family and I have family dinner every night, which is something we wouldn’t even do when I was in high school. So there are some positive things coming out of this, and I think I’m adjusting well.

-First-year

Adjusting to online classes and social distancing has been difficult for me. It is more difficult for me to learn completely relying on online resources. … I’m extroverted, which makes things really difficult, but is necessary to keep myself and my family healthy.

-Sophomore

The university has done an excellent job of providing us information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything I’ve learned about how school would be structured, how student employees would be compensated, and how moving out would happen, I was never shocked about anything I would need to do. … The university has offered us students pay for our on-campus jobs. It’s extremely alleviating to be given that freedom to work from home and not struggle to find some sort of employment not through the school. That has made this process a lot easier, even though it is stressful.

-First-year

The adjustment to online learning has not been as hard as I thought it would be. The professors have been super communicative and helpful, they respond to my emails as soon as I send them. I’ve had tutors reach out to me in each of my classes asking how they can help me. The university has done a great job, including with President Sullivan reaching out.

-Sophomore

The tough part for me has been convincing myself I still have a full course load, even though I’m working at home and it feels like an extended spring break. It’s tough living in Michigan, so I’m missing out on that social aspect on campus. It’s been good to learn virtual communication, online classes and meetings, which will help me in the future. Another nice thing: I live in the Eastern time zone, so my 8 a.m. classes are actually 9 a.m. classes.

-Junior

Getting back into a normal schedule has been tough. Being at school you’re doing things your own way, but at home you need to think about family and what they have going on, as well.

-Sophomore

I’m at my childhood home, staying inside, staying active. Being with my family, staying safe and trying to figure out what’s going on with the world. … St. Thomas has definitely helped us in this transition to online classes. It’s been hard because I’m definitely a visual learner, but my professors have been so understanding and so nice and accommodating to help us through this transition. That’s a blessing, to me, to know they have my backs through this. They know what we’re going through because they’re going through the same thing. St. Thomas has been very communicative and understanding; they understand everything we’re going through. … With all the updates and support through St. Thomas, that has been the easiest thing to help us with this transition.

I hope everyone is well, stays healthy and safe.

-Sophomore

I’m definitely someone that thrives in an in-person learning environment, so the first couple weeks were more difficult. But the staff at St. Thomas has been incredibly helpful with providing us the resources necessary where we can still be successful. Professors have been amazing with giving us more time to complete assignments if we need it, and being here for us through this difficult time. We’re missing out on a lot of things we wouldn’t be if we were still on campus. They’ve been so understanding and helpful, motivating and pushing us through this hard time. It’s gotten easier the past couple weeks and I’ve gotten used to it. I’m ready to finish the semester strong.

Everyone gets bored, but I’ve been using social media and FaceTime a lot to check in with friends and family. … It’s going pretty well. I hope soon enough we can get out of this and back to normal lives.

Senior

The university has done a great job of communicating with students about the whole situation. We’re constantly getting emails with updates and answers to our frequently asked questions. My professors have been keeping structure that they normally have, just online. I’m really grateful for that. The university also has done a great job acknowledging the fact everyone’s living situations are changing and are different in general, so learning how to share the space and manage these online classes, and sharing WiFi, all vary for everyone.

-First-year

The university has been really helpful with the transition, giving the option for pass/fail, extra time to complete homework assignments, and keeping updates coming. I thank the faculty, everyone who supports St. Thomas. It’s amazing how much everyone has been coming together in this difficult time to make the adjustment as easy as possible.

-Sophomore

The biggest things have been that my summer internship was canceled and in general adapting to a new way of life. Overcoming this has meant looking for a new internship this summer, and writing out daily goals and tasks of what I want to complete to keep myself on track, organized and on some kind of routine.

Adjusting to online classes and social distancing has been strange so far. It’s harder to focus. You have to be disciplined and stay on top of yourself. Being home, instead of at school, gives me time to see friends from back home, but with social distancing we’re not doing it physically. It’s been a big adjustment.

-Sophomore

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