Pandemic’s influence on career and studies

2020! How amazing a year everyone expected it to be – renewed hope and flourishing opportunities must have been the thought on peoples’ minds when this year was born. Busting the image of pleasantness, 2020 marked everything from ‘normal’ to ‘new normal’. From the use of hand sanitizers to the relevance of social distancing, the ‘new normal’ has become the order of the day across the world.

As I recall one of my professors talking about the coronavirus outbreak at Wuhan city during the class hours in mid-January, I remember how lightly we students took s it, thinking it was in noway related to us. That casual outlook was shattered by mid-March as new cases started getting reported in India. The unanticipated exponential growth in the rate of cases had a huge impact across the country. A virus which is a few nanometers in size managed to ruin the lives of millions of people! From huge business collapses to meeting one’s daily necessities, posed challenges which was unforeseen all these years.

The slap COVID 19 gave on the educational sector was giant. Schools and colleges were temporarily shut down by the beginning of March. On residential campuses, students were asked to vacate and leave which imparted a sense of panic in them till they reached home.. As of 4th September 2020, approximately 1.277 billion learners are currently affected due to school closures in response to the pandemic (source: Wikipedia). These times have called us to rely on online modes of teaching and learning.

The educational crisis that we overlook today has exposed the inadequacies and inequities in the learning arena – from access to the internet facilities and equipment needed, teaching methods and a supportive environment, to focus on learning. While the educational community has made distinctive efforts for the ongoing learning process, students have to rely on the internet and television. Teachers also have had to adapt to new pedantic methods and mode of delivery for which they may not be formally trained. Being a student myself, I know it is hard to focus on the chapters for a couple of weeks taught in the online mode; interrupted internet connection was my worst nightmare. What would be the case of the marginalized students who have no access to digital learning? The effectiveness of online monitoring and evaluation of classes, as well as assignments, is questionable as there is a tendency shown by students to engage in non-academic activities when classes are going on. Many educational institutes have opted for online exams as the conducting of physical exams has become difficult. But some of the State Boards went for offline exams maintaining lockdown protocol which comprehended using hand sanitizers, wearing mask and social distancing. Both the alternate patterns of exam were rather demanding as student community was not accustomed with the traits of them.

The development of skills and behavioral patterns cultivated through real time classes will still remain as a lacking in student’s in the long run. Academic calendars have been reorganized throughout the world trying to incorporate the shock waves covid scenario has thrown which includes classes to be scheduled on weekends to account for the time already bygone.

Another strike the pandemic gave was on higher education as the Universities closed their premises and the country shut the borders due to lockdown measures. The common entrance test’s both national and state level for taking admission to various professional courses were shifted to and fro due to concern exerted by massive spread if crowding was to occur. Although steps are taken to alter the emergency, the value offered by a university education including networking and social opportunities for an individual are a considerable threat.

To boost the zero hour, international students face added difficulties in this. The major concerns are continuity of learning, safety and legal status of international students, perception of the students of the value of studying abroad for their studying and international mobility. Students are missing out on international exposure and input into foreign job markets and networking. Remote studying is a poor substitute for the experience of studying abroad. The income coming from international students fees to the economy is also at stake.

The swindling economy and downfall of job markets is a major risk to the student communities who are ready to graduate. In par with this, depression and suicide rate among students had also increased rapidly. Withdrawal of job offer letters at the last moment due to economic crisis was a major blow to most youngsters.

Last but not the least, the missing of farewell party’s and convocation ceremony which marks the end of graduation, to bid adieu to the people who were thicker than water and turned into family from stranger’s at first glance- these enchanting moments of a lifetime were all gulped down mercilessly by the COVID 19 pandemic. But at the end of tunnel what did we learn during this test of faith and patience – everything which seemed important became trivial and appreciate the blessings the creator bestowed on us. In all these tribulations, the whisper that keeps me going is John 16:33 from the holy Bible, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Yes! take heart, for Jesus as overcome the world.

Sruthi. V. Roy
MTech student -IIT Bhubaneswar
EU- IIT Bhubaneswar
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