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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Students grapple with online course sign-ups

The preferred deadline to register for a completely online schedule was Aug. 4. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s is offering students the option to request a fully online course schedule for the fall 2020 semester to accommodate for each student’s personal circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Familial health and responsibilities, financial situations and work commitments all play a role in determining whether students return for in-person courses during the pandemic. However, students have struggled to make a decision about classes without knowing whether they can retain their original course schedules.

Shannon Kelly ’21, opted to take her courses online in the fall because of her status as a commuter student and considerations for her family’s health. 

“I got a response from The Success Center that made it seem like if all of my classes were not registered for online I’d have to find different classes,” Kelly said. “I was pretty annoyed and confused because they made it seem like you could take all your courses online, but I couldn’t confirm anything until early August.”

The process to register was straightforward, Kelly said, but she found communication from the university after registration to be unclear.

“I’m just hoping that all of the professors will give online options given the increase in cases,” Kelly said. “Commuters are especially at risk for spreading [COVID-19].”

Madeline DeMarco ’22 said she ran into similar communication issues from the university. 

“I honestly feel like there’s no transparency right now,” DeMarco said. “It’s been me going out of my way to find out information.”

While DeMarco, who is immunocompromised, did not register before the Aug. 4 deadline, she said she will be monitoring which of her registered classes will be possible to take online. 

“I think it all depends on what the university says,” DeMarco said. “If it’s August 22 or 23, then I’ll switch [classes]. So much can happen in three weeks, so I’m going to wait and see.”

When asked about what accommodations will be made for students moving online who are in need of taking specific courses, Cary Anderson, associate provost and vice president of Student Life, said each student’s academic progress and plan is unique. 

“It’s impossible to anticipate each scenario,” Anderson wrote in an email to The Hawk on Aug. 6. “Our faculty advisors and advising centers are committed and stand ready to assist students with meeting their academic goals.” 

Peter Norberg, Ph.D., associate provost for academic and faculty support, said he feels confident that St. Joe’s has the ability to accommodate students’ needs. Courses will be updated with online modifications included on Aug. 7. Norberg said he estimated about 10% of undergraduate students signed up for fully online instruction.

Norberg advised that students wait until after Aug. 7 to add and drop courses, once the online instruction courses go live.

“We’ll have a prolonged add/drop period for courses starting Friday,” Norberg said. “We need to give students a lot of time to adjust their schedules. There’s going to be a lot of back and forth.”

Norberg said the ability to search for classes by instruction methods will be going live soon, at the latest by Aug. 10. He also said a big challenge for online-only students will be adding and finding new course sections to enroll in.

If a student is a senior, and they need a course to graduate, Norberg said the university is committed to do whatever is needed, and exceptions will be made for seniors.

However, seniors like Kelly are still faced with juggling last-second course modifications and finishing requirements for their majors and minors.

“I’m just worried now that I’ll have to go on campus in the fall since I’m a senior and I have to take courses to complete my minor this semester since I’m graduating,” Kelly said. “Now I’m worried I won’t be able to finish my minor.”

COVID-19 accommodation forms can be filled out here. Students looking to take classes remotely due to situations related to the coronavirus pandemic should complete this form to notify St. Joe’s.

This story will be updated as more information on the online course selection process is released.

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