Baylor can help ease the pressure of wintermesters

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By Clay Thompson | Intern

I was about to become a junior after the fall 2021 semester, and I realized I still needed another class to meet a requirement for my degree. So, I decided to attend an online wintermester at Baylor. However, there was one hitch: I had to attend the entire wintermester somewhere where I had 24/7 access to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, where I live at the moment, Wi-Fi and cell service are spotty at best, so I decided it would be best if I did the work in my dorm.

Let me preface this by saying, I don’t blame anyone, especially Baylor, for the challenges I faced during the wintermester. Still, I have suggestions on how accommodations for students living on campus could be improved during the wintermester, as well as some advice for students who might be planning to be on campus during this time.

I arrived to campus the day before classes started to get settled in. I was stocked up with roughly three weeks worth of food, and I had everything I needed to work on the class. I woke up at 4 a.m. the next morning and began to work. However, on the second day of class, the power in the building went out at about 8 a.m. and didn’t fully return until 9:30 p.m. While I was made aware of this reality, I was also told in an email from my hall director that the power would be out until 5 p.m. to allow for an “electrical service tie-in” for the construction project being built nearby. This meant no lights, no power and no Wi-Fi, so my online class had to be put on hold.

One suggestion to help wintermester students living on campus is to help students be more aware of alternative workspaces for them or to leave more places open.

I had no friends taking a wintermester course or living on campus to go to, and all of the on-campus libraries I knew of were closed on Dec. 28, according to their online schedule. Even the Baylor Sciences Building said it would also be closed “on campus holidays.”

During that power outage, I also lost some food that spoiled in the 13 hours of powerlessness in my refrigerator, leading me to my first piece of advice for students who might take a wintermester on campus: Bring lots of non-perishable or long-lasting food and drink sources. Ramen or macaroni, cereal, peanut butter and granola bars are the kinds of foods that should be prioritized. However, if there are other food and drink items you like, feel free to bring them, but be aware that something could happen that could jeopardize that food.

My second suggestion to students is to have someone to talk to. It could be anyone, but hang out with them occasionally — FaceTime or call them — because for me, I was essentially alone in my dorm building. None of my roommates were there, and even though there were others in the building, I didn’t see anyone for the majority of the time. I sat in my room, working around nine to 12 hours every day to get ahead in the class, which took a significant amount of effort on my part. If I were to make a guess, I’d say this one class required more work and effort in such a short amount of time that by the time it was over, it felt like I had just been through an entire semester. Luckily, I had some friends and family I could call to keep me sane, but it is always important to have someone to talk to so that you can have the appropriate breaks and reprieves from the workload.

Finally, I would just recommend trying to work ahead as much as you can in a wintermester class. I was so appreciative that my professor assigned work a few days in advance, and I was able to buckle down and get around four days ahead of the class work-wise by the end. Getting ahead took such a huge weight off of my shoulders with assignments, papers or exams due so quickly in such a short amount of time. While deadlines can feel very stressful and pressuring to a student, try seeing if those assignments are already available on Canvas. If they are, start them as soon as possible to not only get ahead but also relieve some of that pressure of deadlines by turning in your best work before it is even due.

After experiencing a wintermester for myself on campus, I understand how challenging it can be to complete a class in a short amount of time. I encourage students to create their own routines or take the suggestions and advice I’ve offered. The bottom line is that Baylor can better help its students.