Midterms present new challenges as students return to in-person exams


GVL / Lauren Seymour

Kay Keller, Staff Writer

Most college students will be able to tell people that burnout hits very hard by the time that midterms start. Everyone is exhausted, stressed and worried about their grades.

Responses to a Lanthorn survey showed that over half of the Grand Valley State University students who responded feel more confident going into midterms in their in-person classes than they felt online in previous semesters.

However, the way that students study has changed significantly since the transition to online learning and again from the move back to the physical classroom. Students are having to relearn how to study for in-person learning.

Students struggled a lot with the completely online classes in previous semesters. While most appreciate the return to in-person learning, the change has not been easy.

The online format over the last two years has instilled a new form of laziness in me,” GVSU student Anna Compton said. “I’ve discovered that I can scrape by not paying attention to professors and not being diligent because I could barely understand zoom lectures anyways.”

Online classes allowed students to zone out during lectures, rewatch segments that they had missed, and use their notes on quizzes and tests. Without the use of recorded lectures, students are having to rely on their memories and note-taking abilities to succeed in their classes, and may have forgotten how to.

I haven’t had an in-person exam in two years, and during that time had the ability to rely on my notes,” GVSU student Kiara Wheeler said. “So going into an exam, now I have to change the way that I study and memorize a lot more information.” 

Many students find that they are able to focus more easily when they are outside of their home environment. The change of scenery and just the presence of other people being productive is helpful to the mindset of studying.

“I sleep and watch Netflix in my bedroom, play games and socialize in my apartment living room,” said GVSU student Natalie Price. “I have associated the space with having fun. When I change my scenery, I enter a space with no associations. It gives me a fresh start and allows me to focus because I don’t associate it with being distracted.”

Other students mentioned that they frequent the library for their study time. The more serious, school-centered environment makes it easier for students to focus just on their work. Being out of their apartments or dorms also forces students to be out of their pajamas and away from at-home distractions.

In the survey, students also shared the methods of studying that worked best for them. Most students reported that rewriting their notes and making note cards or quizlets have been the most effective for them.

“In class, I take fast messy notes and try to translate the material to my own words,” said GVSU student Katie Rain Auberle. “I then later take those notes and rewrite them using pretty markers and pens and highlighters. I do this because it helps me look over the material again while having to get the essence of it in order to organize everything properly in my new notes.”

After two years of online learning, students and professors alike are struggling with being back in person. The workload is heavy, and while being in person makes learning less challenging, it does not necessarily make it easier.