The Way I See It: Back To School And College
Schools and colleges across the country have been open again for the first time in months. But what does the return to education mean for you? What are the pros and cons? Do you prefer to be in a classroom, or work from your bedroom? NCS Grad’s Gabrielle and Alishba hash it out…
Gabrielle: Going back to school is a good thing
I’m looking forward to going back to school. These six months in lockdown have affected each of us differently but left us all with a lot of time on our hands - time for family or time to relax; time we’ve spent wisely or spent cruising through Netflix. But now, it’s time to go back and I’m thankful.
I just miss having structure in my life.
The pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty. We can’t plan in advance, we plan according to what the virus allows. Schools and colleges provide us with a structure – we know what our days will look like and so we have direction of what to do. We need that rhythm that comes from movement, the comfort that comes from knowing.
Not only for the sake of feeling ‘normal’ again but for the sake of our mental health too.
At the beginning of lockdown, a study conducted by the mental health charity YoungMinds found that out of 2,111 young people, 83% felt that their mental health had worsened since lockdown. I understood this personally. Time previously saved for studying, I now used for thinking; all day, every day, uninterrupted. Overthinking is a crippling state of self doubt. It makes you question everything in your life and leaves you with nothing to be proud of. It can happen at any point in our lives but a routine can help undermine it. By taking positive action, we reinforce our decisions and decrease our doubts.
Being social is just as important for our wellbeing. That same study mentioned it was a loss of routine and social isolation that impacted mental health the most. Across the nation, ‘lockdown loneliness’ has affected approximately 7.4 million people with 16-24 years olds twice as likely to feel this. In extreme cases, long term loneliness is associated with the risk of mental health problems like anxiety, stress and depression.
Just by reaching out to other people we step outside of ourselves to appreciate life for what it is. By having a community around us, we learn more, experience more and discover new depths in our lives. It’s hard to recreate this within the confines of our homes.
So I want us to go back to school/college. We need our routines to ground us, and our communities to support us.
Alishba: Studying from home was much better
I’m not looking forward to going back to college because working remotely has shown me that I can work independently. For example, it’s been easy to complete the classwork without the teacher, so I’ve had luxurious lie-ins rather than waking up for the 9am start. This suited me personally because I usually wake up later and work until evening. It's been so much fun working whilst relaxing because I’ve enjoyed some screen time alongside it. I’ve not felt fatigue after spending a whole day in college and needing a break when coming home so it’s been really nice to have that luxury.
I had more time than ever before to plan and deliver my coursework at my own pace to ensure good quality. In the same way, I've had time to focus on my writing and develop it by writing a picture book, using inspirational sources and creative thinking. I've entered poetry competitions, so have written new poetry to apply, and submitted previously written pieces.
However, this was my last year at college, so there was a large pile of work to do. From assignments, a portfolio folder and extra online courses, to small things I’d have done in college but did at home. It was more hectic during Ramadan when I had many commitments including college work. This affected my energy levels, concentration, mental ability, optimism, and hindered my performance. But I grew from it by planning around my work and creating to-do lists. My routine of working till late suited me and I arranged it accordingly.
It also affected my mental and physical health a bit, because on top of assignments, I had a portfolio to complete as well as small pieces. I didn’t get that much exercise or enjoy my hobbies, as I was sat at my desk day in, day out. Also, personally, I find it easier to focus on the revision for the test or coursework which is due around the corner so I prioritise that and find I can’t attend to other matters, no matter how small, which causes me stress.
Overall though, I really enjoyed studying from home and will miss that flexibility as the last six months have shown me how I work and study best so I’ll make sure to apply these techniques and lessons in the future.