A picture of an auditorium with a header that states, "Grad School Online. What's it like to transition to online learning while in graduate school at NYU?"

As you probably know, the NYU community has moved to virtual classes in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus among our students and staff. 

This has meant many changes for students this semester. Internships have been cut short, events cancelled, and classes reformatted as we go virtual. What has it been like to live through this as a grad student?  I’ll walk you through this experience from my first-hand perspective as a grad student at the Washington Square Campus

Like many of us around the world:

The spread of this virus and the severity of the public health measures needed to stop the spread took me by surprise. As our city took steps to close down many of the things that make this city our homes, like our schools, the reality sunk in that this semester would look very different from the others that I have spent at NYU. What would this mean for my education as I completed my last few assignments?

Online Classes

NYU shifted to an online format for all classes mid-March. Many students who were already enrolled in online masters degrees were used to this format, for others of us, it took some adjustments. Thankfully, our professors and administrators have been understanding of the difficulty of this change and many have adjusted their syllabus to reflect a more manageable coursework load. The first week of online classes was met with some technological hiccups, which were quickly addressed by the fantastic and tireless IT team. Many students needed space to express themselves as they processed these sudden changes, and we took time as a community in our classes and through online forums to support each other. 

Now, as we approach the end of the semester (only 1 week to go!), many of us are more settled into this classroom experience. I’ve cleared off the desk I said I’d study at in my room that was honestly more of a placeholder for my unfolded laundry and set up a nice workstation for myself- peep the new embroidery I’ve taken up as a form of self-care! For me, it helps to have this set up so that I can take notes on my chromebook and have Zoom up on my laptop. While not everyone has this capability, there has been a lot of work done on NYU’s part to make sure that all students have the technology needed to be able to join in on class each week. I’m thankful to be part of this community during this time!

A picture of Zoe's desk and work area. We see two laptops and a coffee cup. On one of the laptop screens, she is on Zoom for one of her classes.

The Silver School, and many others across NYU, has been working tirelessly to keep students engaged and provide us with the quality programming we have come to know and love at NYU. I’ve been able to continue attending discussions hosted by the Wagner School of Public Service, career development events through the Wasserman Career Center Grad team, and volunteer as a Student Ambassador for admissions events at Silver. These are all things I would have done on campus and can now do from the comfort of my home! This commitment to my education and overall experience at NYU has been so encouraging to me as I push through the last few weeks of my program.

Changing Expectations

This time of constant change and uncertainty hasn’t been easy as a graduate student by any means. I’m balancing my coursework, a part-time on campus job (the reason you’re reading this blog!), and the same challenges many New Yorkers face like safely getting groceries, staying sane while safe inside, and worrying about family and friends’ safety. As a social work student, we have talked a lot about grief, and the manifold ways that it shows up for each of us. For me, this has come through the ways in which I’ve had to shift my expectations for my final semester. My last semester at NYU looks nothing like I thought it would. I won’t get to join in the NYU Grad Cruise on the Hudson that the Center for Student Life’s Grad team puts on each year; I won’t have the Yankee Stadium Commencement in May when my family would have flown in to celebrate with me. But as I’ve shifted my expectations, I’ve come to see the beauty in the ways in which the NYU community, my professors, classmates, co-workers, the staff, the administrators, and everyone that is a part of this big, purple family has come around to support each other.

I’ll leave my time at NYU knowing that I have had one of the most transformative experiences of my life, learned more than expected, and grown in ways only possible in times of hardship. For now, I’m holding onto the promise made by NYU’s president Andy Hamilton that, “when we do convene to celebrate the Class of 2020 it will come with an added dose of praise and congratulations for the tremendous resiliency you have shown in the face of great adversity.” Now that’s a party I’m looking forward to.