As Ireland nears the end of its second week in lockdown, third level students across the country are attempting to keep up their college work under unusual circumstances.
Christina Logan from Abbeyshrule is studying Graphic Design at Athlone Institute of Technology, which shut its doors on March 20 and instructed its students to work from home.
“In the beginning, many people thought the whole situation was being blown way out of proportion, stating ‘sure it’s just a bad flu’ and making jokes about it,” Christina told the Longford Leader.
“There had been rumours a couple of days before the closure that it (the college closing) was a possibility.
“The reaction in the college as a whole was strange. The library ran out of many books with academic students panicking that they wouldn’t be able to study their course material.
“Some exams had already been brought forward to that week and the canteen gave out extra food to the few who dared mix with the few students who were left.”
Since the college closed, Christina and other students like her have been left to face the prospect of working from home and continuous assessment, rather than exams.
“Right now we are unsure how our end of year assessments will work,” she admitted.
“Usually, we are graded on our research, design, how well it works in print format and a presentation of our work. Things always look different on screen than they do printed so it’s a big part of our learning.
“I suppose the presentation could still be doable over the internet but that would be horrible for all involved.
“I'm in my final year; usually as a design class we have a big exhibition of our work. It's not looking good for it happening at the moment and, to be honest, we are all disappointed about that.
“Now that the restriction has been extended, we may not be back in college this semester at all - a sad way to end the degree.”
While continuous assessment is certainly doable for third level students, students studying for their Leaving Certificate are still in limbo when it comes to their exams.
While the government has announced intentions for the state exams to go ahead this summer - albeit a month or two later than usual - students are struggling with the challenges of studying from home without their teachers.
Ballymahon music teacher Katie Gallagher is determined to help out in whatever way she can and, with the help of her friends who are teachers, has set up a resource stockpile for exam students to access for free.
“What we’re doing is creating a google folder through Gallagher School of Music and Drama where teachers can share their notes of all subjects for exam students,” Katie explained.
“It’s a free service and all teachers get 100% credit for their notes. If people want to gain access to the folder or are a teacher and want to share their notes they just email gallagherschoolofmusicand email@example.com and I’ll share it with them.”
With oral and practical exams already being cancelled for this year so far, the folder has been a help to numerous exam students who are facing into the uncertainty of written exams.
“We’re just trying to do our bit because everyone is so scared at the moment,” Katie explained.
“There is so much uncertainty but I think the main thing to do is switch off from social media and keep active and if you are an exam student, just be confident in your own independent learning and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.
“It’s sad to see the practicals and orals cancelled but it was the only way bar putting them on during the summer. I personally am sad for my students who don’t get to show off their talents in that capacity but that just means we’ll have to work harder on getting more shows for them to shine in.”