As the ninth week of the semester comes to an end and students continue to readjust to learning in person, 20 students continue to learn remotely, away from campus.
This fall, the college returned to holding classes mostly in person, following a year of mixed in-person and online learning. Although most students are back on campus in Vermont this year, the college maintained an option for students to study entirely remotely. Students were asked to declare their intentions for the fall semester during the spring and faced a $1150 fee to change from in person to a remote or leave of absence status after the May 21 deadline and before the first day of fall classes.
While many of these students have taken advantage of being home with family, connecting with non-Middlebury communities and thinking of their future after Middlebury, they have also faced difficulty finding classes in their major and staying connected to their friends on campus. Some feel the college needs to give more attention and support to remote learners.
Gabby Meeks ’23, studying from Connecticut, said that the college needs to provide remote students with more support. Meeks said none of her professors reached out to check on how her experience is going this semester as a remote student, and she wished her dean had reached out to her to make sure she was receiving enough support this fall.
Phoebe Sun ’22.5 also felt like the college was not supporting her enough when it came to registering for classes remotely. Although Sun was hoping to graduate with her class, she was forced to defer the semester due to the lack of remote class options that would fulfill her major requirements.
Departments are offering fewer online options than they did last academic year, forcing remote students to take courses outside of their major and interests.
“The number of classes I could choose from was very, very limited,” Sadigh Latif Jalali ’24.5 said. And very few of those offerings, he said, matched his interests.
There is, however, flexibility that comes with studying remotely, according to Jalali. He feels his remote studies have taught him to be more independent and organized. Meeks also said that being able to learn from home allowed her to work while still being a full-time student.
Sun said that she now has the opportunity to connect with old friends and make new friends in her community.
The physical distance of being away from campus, however, contributes to an altered college experience, according to the students.
“I don’t feel like I am a part of the Middlebury culture, I am more so just taking the classes and doing my own thing. The Middlebury culture itself is very far from me,” Meeks said.
Jalali also said that he feels he is missing out on an essential part of the college experience. because he isn’t able to meet other students in person and learn about different cultures.
Sabrina Salam '24 (she/her) is a Copy Editor.
She previously served as a Staff Writer. Sabrina spent this past spring semester studying abroad in Spain. This summer she interned as a Legal Intern at Verizon's headquarter in New Jersey.
Sabrina is studying International & Global Studies with a focus in Global Security. She is also a Peer Career Advisor at the Center for Careers and Internships and a DJ for WRMC Middlebury College Radio.