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What Rutgers students have to say about online vs. in-person classes following return to campus

While some Rutgers students found benefits to taking classes online, others did not find them to be comparable to in-person courses. – Photo by

After transitioning to online classes more than a year and a half ago due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, several Rutgers students have developed a new attitude toward them.

Emily Macintyre, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, found that online classes were easier to study for and took up less of her time. While it depends on the class, she said she would rather take a class online if it is a large lecture, but prefers taking smaller and more participatory classes in person.

“For this semester, I tried to have all my classes in person just because I missed the in-person experience and I wanted it back,” she said. “I do have one online class but that’s only because it was the only section for that class.”

Sonika Mudiyala, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, is taking three online courses and one hybrid course this semester. She said that online classes, particularly non-major courses and electives, bring the benefit of allowing individuals to work at their own pace.

Additionally, she said less time is spent studying during online courses as opposed to in-person ones, but for more difficult classes relating to a major or minor, online classes can leave you with no guidance.

Amanda Hogan, a School of Nursing junior, said that she does not want to take any online classes for her next semester. She said that as a nursing student, her studies are more hands-on and have to be applied in a classroom setting.

Out of Rutgers undergraduate and graduate students across all four campuses, most individuals took courses for-credit at the University during the COVID-19 pandemic, but online courses were a new experience for about one-third of students, according to a Rutgers survey.

Auburn Putz, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, had not previously taken any classes online prior to the pandemic. Following her exposure, she said she will still try to avoid online classes, but will not mind if she has some.  

“Taking online classes during the pandemic made me aware of what kind of spaces I need in order to study, and what kind of environment helps me focus in class,” she said. “I probably will end up taking them (next semester) because there’s still a lot of online classes. But it’s easier for me to focus in a classroom setting.”

While Rutgers students involved in the survey were largely satisfied with the University’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 90 percent of students reported at least one obstacle in the transition to online learning.

Priyanka Varma, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, found online classes to be a lot more flexible but missed the experience she had during her first semester at the University.

“I tried to select as many in-person classes as I could. But since my major is very small, we didn’t have a lot of in-person options,” she said. “Whatever I could sign up for that was in-person, I made sure to do so."

Varma is optimistic about next semester’s return to normalcy, hoping that with an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, it will be safe for everyone to return fully to all in-person classes once again.

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