Students are preparing for final exams this semester from their homes all around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Lehigh to end on campus housing and in person activities before Thanksgiving break. (Nora Thomson/B&W Staff)

Students prepare to take final exams from home


To cap off a semester like no other, complete with virtual learning and campus closures following COVID-19 outbreaks, the final exam period from Dec. 8 to Dec. 16 is presenting one last challenge for all Lehigh students and faculty. 

Charlie Stafford, ‘24, and Dan Graney, ‘24, are both preparing to take their first college final exams from home. 

Graney, from Bel Air, Maryland, said he is feeling prepared, but has some concerns about technical issues. 

“Although I have internet connection in my house, I’m not sure how strong it is 100 percent of the time,” Graney said. “I fear losing my test and getting a zero because my internet isn’t connecting.” 

Stafford, from Vienna, Virginia, said most of his professors have been fairly understanding of students’ situations but thinks it will be more difficult taking finals at home.

“I really don’t have a lot of resources besides online material to help me out instead of being in person and going to the library or having dormmates helping you study,” Stafford said. 

David Johnson, a professor in mathematics, is teaching two classes this semester. He said he has relied on extensive note-taking and providing solutions to old exams for students to study.

He said the worst part is that even though instructors believe they are working twice as hard, the students are feeling more isolated. 

As for administering exams, professors are taking different steps to relieve stress, such as holding review sessions, having open-note exams or allowing a whole day to complete an exam.

“It’s better to not police students with online proctors,” Johnson said. “They are under so much stress anyway that having someone watching them would be over the top.”

Jesus Salas, a professor in finance, has tried to simulate a similar online experience that students would have had in the classroom. 

“This semester I’ve been able to even try out new things like using whiteboards and an iPad to separately write down notes,” Salas said. “I also have tried different types of recording methods and so it has been a little more innovative for me.”

Salas said he has made office hours available for students and decided to record each session, since students are all over the world and the time difference can be difficult. 

Nikki Groce, ‘21, chose to return to her off-campus house to take finals after spending her Thanksgiving break at home in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. Groce said there are less distractions at her off-campus house. 

Groce said it’s been a difficult semester balancing work as well as other challenges from COVID-19. 

“A lot of people are going through new challenges on top of the regular stress of college,” Groce said. “There’s been no outlet for relieving stress either.” 

Even in an unusual and more difficult semester, some have found time to reflect on the resilience displayed by the Lehigh community.

“I’ll say that I am quite proud of the students as I think this semester, they have worked their butts off and I think that they are learning,” Salas said. “I’m very happy that overall we are accomplishing those goals despite the fact that it’s harder.”

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