A slight increase from the fall, 15.3% of enrolled undergraduate students at the University are studying remotely for the spring semester, according to University Registrar Anna C.G. van der Burg. A total of 2,887 undergraduate students are enrolled for the spring semester, with 442 students studying remotely. Both of these numbers increased slightly from the fall semester.
Of the students who were enrolled in the fall, 85 decided to take a leave for the spring, while 136 chose to come to campus this semester after taking a leave in the fall. Students were able to notify their class deans about their decision to return to campus or study remotely up until Tuesday, Feb. 9, the first day of spring semester classes.
Though the number of enrolled and non-remote students grew slightly, this did not cause any significant issues with housing assignments for the spring.
“Indications from students prior to the spring semester were that almost all of the students who had been studying remotely were hoping to return to campus,” Director of Residential Life and Associate Dean of Students Frances Koerting wrote in an email to The Argus. “The slight increase was much more manageable.”
Instead, the challenge with housing came from trying to assign previously remote students to their selected housing assignments.
“The biggest challenge in assigning students who were remote in the fall was that we were not always able to reassign them to the housing they had selected in the spring [of 2020],” Koerting wrote. “In some instances their roommates had pulled someone else in to that vacancy, or a different group had been assigned to that unit in the fall. In other situations, the student returning from remote was pulled into a different location.”
In a mid-semester survey of University students conducted by the Office of Institutional Research in Oct. 2020, 60% of respondents (approximately 48% of students) said that they would study on-campus in the spring if it resembled the fall semester. However, remote students were less likely to answer “yes” than those who were on campus in the fall, while seniors and first years were more likely to say yes than sophomores.
While the overall percentage of remote enrolled undergraduates increased slightly, the percentage of international students on F-1 visas who are studying remotely decreased from just under 50% in the fall to roughly 37% for the spring. According to Office of International Student Services Director Chia-Ying Pan, 311 F-1 students are enrolled for the spring, with 196 of them studying on campus. Of all enrolled F-1 students, 41 F-1 students are currently on leave, while one student is studying abroad.
There was an increase in the number of first-year F-1 students studying on-campus for the spring, with just under half studying remotely. Still, across all class years, the percentage of F-1 students who are studying remotely this semester is greater than the percentage of all students who are remote for the spring.
Jangho Yun ’23 studied remotely from South Korea during the fall, but returned to campus for the spring semester to meet requirements for his Green Card.
“You have to go to the United States around once a year to maintain your permanent residence status,” Yun said. “So that’s why I went. I did online first semester, so I just had to go. I had no choice…. But if I had the choice, I wouldn’t have.”
Yun says his experience being back on campus has made him think staying in Korea would have been a better option.
“A lot of my classes are online anyway, and there’s not as much value in meeting your college friends as I thought, just because of all the distancing, how likely it is that there’s going to be an outbreak?” Yun said. “It’s just too many factors.”
Anh Nguyen ’23, an international student who studied remotely in the fall, chose to continue studying from Vietnam for the spring semester due to financial and mental health concerns.
“I am lucky enough to be having a safe and secure…environment and so I didn’t think the extra money for campus housing and all the travel costs would be worth it,” Nguyen wrote in a message to The Argus. “Besides, I don’t think I’d do well mentally with lockdown. Vietnam has been handling COVID-19 pretty well, and so far we haven’t got any lockdown in Hanoi since last April. I miss campus for sure, but I guess I still have 2 more years for it.”
However, Nguyen noted how the time difference with being a remote student made the fall semester difficult.
“It was exhausting as I may have overestimated my ability to stay up late,” Ngueyn wrote. “I slept through a lot of my classes, especially the ones that were over midnight. My sleeping schedule got messed up. I also feel like it was harder to keep in contact with friends and [professors] who were on campus.”
Despite the difficulties that arose from being a remote international student, Nguyen ultimately decided to stay remote for the spring.
“All that made me want to go back for sure, but there were negotiations to make,” Nguyen wrote. “I guess in the end I chose to find the right classes (mostly async[hronous]) and just try to reach out more to people online.”
Jiyu Shin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.