Before the fall semester began, something new marked the academic calendar—a planned, full transition to online learning after Thanksgiving. Following the lead of other institutions to reduce exposure to COVID-19 after the holiday, PCC planned for students to finish the final three weeks of the semester online, allowing them to return home during the Thanksgiving break.
After the hustle and bustle of the semester moved online, Stephen Sims (Jr., NC) compared the quiet atmosphere left behind on campus to that of summers at PCC. Although this semester was altered, Stephen has appreciated the opportunity to continue pursuing his college degree. “I’m very grateful for being able to attend college not only through in-person classes but also through online learning. It is through online learning that God has been able to strengthen my self-discipline and patience,” he said. “I had projects such as the Philosophy of Discipline paper and Resource File Project, as well as multiple teachings and presentations, that I was definitely glad I got done before the transition.”
With the reduced campus population, several student work opportunities opened up, giving the remaining students the ability to earn money while finishing the semester online. For his final three weeks of the semester, Jarrod Waytan (Fr., NC) signed up to work for 15 hours in a work area, earning him free room and board in addition to salary. As a collator in Abeka Print Shop, Jarrod stacks and organizes textbook pages before they are bound together. “The friendly environment at the Print Shop has definitely made the job enjoyable. I’m thankful for coworkers who inject the occasional fun into serious work,” he said. “The incentive of free room and board is great because it leaves one less payment to worry about for college as you continue earning money to pay the rest.”
Fully online classes and a restructured work schedule have allowed Kylie Loftus (Jr., FL) to better tailor her classwork time and brought welcome opportunities to meet more of her Environmental Services coworkers. “So far, I have been doing well with the transition because I can pick my time to watch the class lectures, giving me more time to focus on specifics,” she said. “With my work schedule changing, I have worked with many different people, some I already knew from previous work and some being new. It has given me the opportunity to get more out there socially since I tend to be a shy person.”
With the transition to online after Thanksgiving in mind, faculty planned to have most major projects finished before the break. After having experienced teaching online last spring, the planned adjustment proved simpler. “As faculty, we’ve all grown a lot over the last nine months,” said Jared Twigg, a Bible faculty member. “We’ve become better online instructors. Naturally, as we’ve better adjusted, we’ve been able to set our students up for their own successful adjustment to this new learning environment. Bible content courses are pretty versatile. So, for me, the only real difference was having to consider access to library materials when I assigned due dates for papers.”
Carl Haire, a criminal justice faculty member, appreciated that PCC was able to hold in-person instruction for the semester, and he used challenges as moments for growth. “Returning to the online format is not something I personally have looked forward to—I prefer in-person classes, as we can establish and maintain a better connection with each student in person. I personally planned my major writing assignments for the period we were doing in-person classes. This allowed me to help students who may have needed additional instruction,” he said. “This challenging time presented us the opportunity to test our faith that God is in control, and we must trust Him in both good times and hard times.”
Many faculty members were encouraged by their students’ tenacity and willingness to remain diligent throughout the unique semester. “My freshman class seemed much more studious and serious this semester,” said Sarah Goodson, who teaches engineering. “I don’t know if it’s because they recognized the difficult semester they were headed into or if it was just that particular class, but I was very encouraged by the new batch of engineering students and look forward to seeing their progress in future years!”
With finals beginning shortly, the semester will soon be over! Students are looking forward to spending some time away for the holidays. “I just want to thank God for being my provider of opportunity,” said Jarrod Waytan, thankful to have had his first semester of college. “He was able to safely bring me to PCC when I was completely unsure of my next step in life. He continues to direct us through these unusual times and online classes. He will surely guide the next semester according to His perfect plan.”