Some University of Delaware students unhappy with their options for fall semester classes are choosing to sit the semester out or continue to live at home instead of moving to campus.
With many classes online, junior Zane Robinson of Middletown said, “I would not be able to justify paying for a dorm or apartment.”
Ben Stafford, a junior from Sandtown, will not enroll for fall semester. “Half the reason I’m not going is because of the school’s announcement,” he said. “The other half is personal reasons.”
What the fall semester will be like has been a huge topic of conversation among UD students during the summer break.
Robinson and Stafford made their decisions after the university said its fall reopening will mean changes in the way classes meet, with many going online. Many classes will be both online and in person.
Classes will only meet in person when they have less than 49 undergrad students and classes of less than 25 graduate students, the university said. Classes with more than this will be held online, much like spring semester.
These classes aren’t fully in person, but a mixture of in-person and online. In-person classes will now be held on a rotating schedule, two times a week, for a maximum of 75 minutes. Another new addition to the schedule is that classes will now be held on Saturday, however, the school said they are trying to limit the number of classes held that day.
Classes will start Sept. 1, with the last day of in-person classes being Nov. 20. After the Thanksgiving break, classes will transfer online for the remainder of the semester, with exams online.
Repeated efforts were unsuccessful to get comments from the University of Delaware about the reaction of students and the numbers of students not returning to campus, sitting out the semester or changing schools.
“I wasn’t happy with the news that most of my classes are looking to be online, but more likely fully online,” said Robinson. “The online learning makes it a lot tougher to motivate myself … Online learning feels like less value for the tuition that we pay out.”
The school’s website says tuition, fees, and room and board cost students $30,288 in the 2019-2020 year. Tuition will be frozen for 2020-2021, the school has said. Room and board was estimated at $6,604 per semester, the website said.
Jalen Adams, a junior from Dover, says he will return to campus, but he doesn’t think UD’s plan is fair.
“I honestly don’t believe they care about anything other than money,” he said. “And if they did care about students and professors and making it fair to them, they would have come up with a better and more thought out plan.”
The sentiment that things could have been planned better was pretty much the same all around. There are many factors that students are worried about right now, and UDs decisions surely aren’t helping.
Robinson said finances just won’t work for him to pay to live in Newark, but not go in person to classes.
“My car is not very fuel-efficient, but it’ll be a lot cheaper than living on campus,” Robinson said.
Staying home will allow him to avoid taking on debt for housing, but if he didn’t live just 16 miles from Newark, “It is likely that I would skip the upcoming semester.”
Stafford doesn’t think the university is trying to penalize students.
“I feel like they are doing what they can, but I personally don’t like online learning,” he said. “II don’t learn as much online and once you fall behind, you can fall behind further because it’s harder to get in contact with professors.
“You can get lost for a whole semester.”
Adams believes the university needed more input from students and faculty to make a plan more focused on the needs of students and teachers.
“They should be adapting to us and not us adapting to them,” he said.
Robinson would have liked to see all classes continue to meet in person, but with reduced class sizes and strict precautions
“Second to that, I would want it to be full online,” he said. “I believe that this hybrid sort of learning will be unnecessarily confusing for students and faculty.”
Stafford, who is working at a pet fish store, thinks the entire semester should have been mothballed.
“As impossible as it may seem, putting students on a break would be the best thing,” he said. “The state, of course, would have to do this. I would prefer for school to be on pause.”
Daniel Larlham Jr. is a junior at the University of Delaware.