UIUC student reflects on staying home all semester

By Sammi St. Leger

At the start of summer, college students observing COVID-19 protocols questioned whether the planned return to campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would even be possible. In March, they had suddenly moved to online classes as university buildings shut down, and case numbers hadn’t dramatically declined now months later as the fall semester approached. When August hit, and a majority of classes were still available online, many had to make the difficult decision on whether to return to UIUC, or stay home the entire semester.

Junior majoring in consumer economics and finance, Michael Pasquale, was one of the students who ended up choosing not to load up his family’s car for fall move-in. His parents played a factor in this decision.

“My parents thought it was best for me to stay home where we would not be in contact with thousands of students,” Pasquale said.

While staying home prevented exposure to COVID-19, it also presented its own set of challenges: schooling away from school. Students at home had to adjust to focusing with distractions, finding spaces to study, and learning without in-person teaching. Pasquale said he didn’t feel like he learned much this semester, as all but one of his courses were asynchronous. He only had one live lecture and said the asynchronous courses gave out “busy work” he had a full week to complete. 

Despite this, Pasquale says he is happy with his decision to stay. For him, it offered opportunities outside his learning at UIUC; he was able to work and pick up an internship.

“All things considered. I was glad I stayed home,” Pasquale said. “My family had a lot going on, and being able to stay home and help them was huge. I was also able to caddy at my Country Club and Intern at Motorola Solutions. Obviously other people weren’t as lucky to work multiple jobs, so I can understand how staying at home for the semester would be lonely and hard.”

Pasquale will return to campus for spring semester. He has enjoyed home, but feels it is safe to return because of UIUC’s effective containment of the virus and the possibility of an available vaccine.

“I can’t wait to be back on campus,” Pasquale said.