• lilyleib0

Updated: Sep 28

As a college student returning back to school amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, I have had a difficult transition. Most of my peers feel the same way. In my previous article (check it out here), I wrote about my experience returning to campus and how Covid has affected my senior year of college. I thought it would be interesting to get a different perspective on how Covid is making an impact on higher education, so I decided to speak with a UC Regent who happens to be my very own father. The University of California schools are governed by 18 regents who under the California Constitution have "full powers of organization and governance". My dad, Rich Leib, was appointed as a UC Regent in 2018 by Governor Brown. Today I called him to ask to ask him some questions and gain some insight on how the pandemic is affecting higher education.

Hi, dad! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. The first question I am going to ask you is, as a regent, how do you feel about schools opening up amidst Covid?

Thanks for having me! Well, In my opinion, each college campus is completely different and it really depends on the specific location and community. Some schools are located in places where there’s high positivity rates in the greater community while others have far less cases. Overall, it has to be done with great care, and there has to be a testing protocol, and if a re-opening is done it has to be in very limited terms.

How did the UC’s make the decision to be online?

For the UC schools, each individual school had to make their own decision based off their unique circumstances. In the end, they all had to be online due to the fact that the overall numbers of Covid were just too high. This decision wasn’t made by the Regents, it was made by the University of California in coordination with the academic senate. It was definitely a tough one though.

How do you think higher education is impacted from online education?

Well, there are certainly some ways an online education can be very productive and good but it definitely does have certain limitations. What going online has taught us is that some classes can very easily be instructed via Zoom without losing any value. This means that in the future we may potentially not need to spend so much money on large buildings and lecture halls and allocate recourses else where. That being said, education in its entirety can not be done online and Zoom is never meant to replace education. There are so many subjects and classes that are meant to be taught in classrooms with peers and team members which is why this whole thing is so unfortunate.

What would be your advice to students with online class to succeed?

I think online school makes everything more challenging and I am sure it is much harder to focus. I also can’t imagine what college would be like without the social aspect since that was my favorite part of my time at UCSB when I was a student. But, I would emphasize that it is crucial to try your best to bear through it. It is important to remember that in time we will be back to normal classes depending on how things go. Treat online classes the same way you would to regular classes and put in maximum effort. If you were the kind of person that would go to office hours when classes were in person, make sure to do the same on Zoom! Take advantage of your professors free time and schedule zoom meetings with them. I am sure they would love to talk to you and appreciate the effort.

What would be your advice to students returning to a college campus with in person classes?

Remember that it is extremely important to always social distance, wear a mask, and avoid large gatherings. I also think it is important to note that excessive drinking reduces your abilities to practice social distancing. Even though it is rare, there are instances where young healthy kids are hospitalized which is why it is so important to take this seriously.

When do you think classes will start up again and what is a good plan of action for when they do?

Hmm..well that is very hard to tell. I do think that it will be a slow process and very gradual. I am not a scientist but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started up again for spring semester. I think everything in person will be optional and accustomed to what people are comfortable with.

Thank you so much for speaking with me!

It was a pleasure!

  • milisacarter

Students today are most familiar or comfortable with texting or social media as a primary form of communication, but at the college level, the most ideal way to communicate with professors and college staff is by way of email, as I have recently found out. This means it is important to know how to effectively email your professor. Below I will give you some tips to use when emailing your professor.

The Subject Line

Put the topic and purpose of the email in the subject line. Keep the subject line short, no more than 7 words.

The Body of the Email

Include a greeting at the beginning. Dear can be too formal so you can always just say hello.

Do not use Mrs., sometimes it is not considered acceptable. Mrs. is usually used to refer to married females. Using Mrs. requires you to know that your professor is married. Even then, some professors would rather be referred to Dr. so as to ensure that the impotence of their doctorate degree is not diminished. Use Dr. Ms. Mr. Pros. or Professor. If you are not sure which to use, you can always ask.

Do not address the professor by first name if you have not met them yet and do not know if this is acceptable.

Emails are meant to be short. Keep it simple and concise.

Explain why you are emailing in the first few sentences of the email. The reader of the email should know why they are being emailed within a few seconds of opening the email. For example, “I am waitlisted for this class and I would like to see if I would be able to join.”

After clearly stating the purpose, give background information that will further explain your problem. For example, “I am a Senior and need this class to graduate.”

Include necessary details. For example, which section of the class, student ID or number.

Be aware of tone and politeness. Ask, do not demand.

Check spelling and grammar

The Signature Line

Add signature block in settings. The original emailer and their email addresses sometimes can get lost in forwarding. A signature block allows for this not to happen.

Signature block:

First name and last name

Degree & Major (Ex: B.A. in Political Science)

University & year (Ex: University of Michigan ‘24)

Title/Leader of group

Phone number

Example of an Effective Email

Use the Correct Technology

Although you can do most of your schoolwork on the phone or on a desktop computer, it can be best to use a laptop. A phone might not be able to access certain websites, documents, or other resources. A laptop can usually access all the different resources you need. A laptop also allows you to multitask due to the screen size. You can type a word document as you browse the internet. One of the most important things is the fact that a laptop is portable. You can take your work with you. This is an important advantage that will allow you to navigate this difficult time. Make sure to back up your laptop and get a warranty to be able to fix your laptop if damages occur.

Keep the Screen Turned on During Class

It is important to fully participate in class either with active listening or contributing to the class discussion. It can be easy to avoid these things during online learning. Make sure you keep the screen on to encourage yourself to fully participate in class. Be mindful of your surroundings and use a virtual background if needed.

Use All of Your Available Resources

There are many resources available on campus to assist students. Colleges want to help students do their best and have created many programs to benefit students.

One of your main resources is your academic advisor. Academic advisors are there to answer any question you have or direct you to someone that can better help you. Talk to your advisor about any topic such as academics, stress, finances, and so on.

When at the library rather online or in-person, take advantage of the library assistant. The library assistant not only can help you find a book but can also lead you to the book that can best fit your needs. Ask questions such as: What book talks about Michigan’s school funding system?

There is also tutoring available in every subject. If you need help learning a certain topic, reach out for help. Also, if you just need help improving your work there are other resources available such as a writing center that will help you edit your papers.

There is even support for specific groups such as first-generation college students or women in medicine.

Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help

Reach out to anyone who can help you. Reach out to your professor, advisors, office of financial aid, or so on. There is assistance even for things such as financial needs. There are often many scholarships available from the college for books or even emergency funds.

Take Advantage of Office Hours

Professors have time set aside specially for helping students. Use office hours to reach out to professors for assistance. Adding office hours to your Google Calendar, or whichever calendar that you use, will be a helpful reminder that office hours are available and that you can go when possible or needed. At the beginning of the semester, before you may even need to reach out for assistance, you can still go to office hours to get to know the professor. You can ask about their academic or research interests to break the ice. You are more likely to go to office hours when you need assistance if you have already met and gotten to know your professor.

Check Syllabus and Ask Questions

Make sure you read the syllabus completely and be aware of the requirements of the course. The syllabus is the guide to the course that tells you everything you need to do and how to be successful in the course. Ask questions if you do not understand something in the syllabus. Often, the first day of classes is dedicated to going over the syllabus so make sure to pay attention. The syllabus can change frequently during the semester so check the syllabus often to be aware of changes made. It is helpful to always have your syllabuses for your different classes with you. Some professors upload an online version of the syllabus, but for those that do not, you can photo-scan a copy of the syllabus to your phone so that the syllabus can always be with you.

Know Where to Post Work Online and If There is a Grace Period

Be aware of where to post assignments once they are due. My college uses Canvas to allow students to submit assignments. Some professors will give you a due date and time and not allow assignments to be submitted after that time. Some professors might have a 15-minute period to allow students to submit work after the due time. If something is due at midnight then be ready to submit your work at 11:45 p.m. This will give you time for slow internet connection, having to open the submission portal, etc.

Do Not Multitask During Class

Just like you cannot watch TV during in-person classes, do not watch TV during online classes. Focusing on one task at a time can help you completely and effectively finish a task.

Be Aware of Note-Taking vs. Note-Making

In class you will not have time to take effective notes. In class you are note-taking. You are just trying to quickly jot down information. It is important to also participate in note-making. After class go over your notes and add headings, further explain a keyword, and so forth.

The Cornell Notetaking Method is good for taking notes and reviewing notes after class.

Make a Schedule and Stick To It

Once you get your schedule put in on a paper or online planner, choose whichever works best and that you can easily access at all times. Outside of class, schedule time for studying, eating, and relaxing. Once you stick to a schedule, it comes easily.

Have a Space Dedicated to Learning

Choose a workspace free from distractions. Have enough space to be able to spread out notebooks and class work. Choose a workplace that can stay in place so things will not be misplaced. Having a space that you know is for learning will help your brain focus on learning.

Still Sign Up for Clubs and Student Organizations

You can still participate in clubs and student organizations during this time of online learning. The only differences that may occur are online meetings and a limit on the kinds of activities that can be done at the moment. It is now a good time to sign up for newsletters and attend online meetings of the clubs or student organization that interests you. If you decide that a club or student organization is not for you, you can always decide to no longer be a part of it.

Take Care of Your Health

Many colleges offer healthcare so look into what your college has made available to you. Healthcare does not only include physical healthcare, but also mental healthcare. If you feel sick or stressed out, make sure to reach out to healthcare professionals. Some colleges even offer nutrition specialists that can help you to secure a healthy diet and lifestyle.



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