With restrictions now in place once again across the country, many third level students are struggling with the effects of working from home. According to research by the Commission for Communications Regulation, 3 in 5 people are seeing an increase in their home broadband use since March 1st, showing that internet connections and computer software are some of the issues facing students this semester, not to mention the social side of starting college. Amber Baxter spoke to a number of students about their challenges.
Emily Ní Aogáin, a first year NCAD student, spoke about her bad connection and how it is affecting her. “Personally, I have found my internet connection has not been the best recently, typically, as soon as I need it most.
“Sometimes on Zoom call lectures it might buffer briefly, but I will have missed out on something the lecturer may have said that could have been important. I feel like we’re all at a disadvantage working from home and online rather than physically on campus. It’s very different and not as beneficial especially for practical courses because you can’t do your work as well at home as you would on campus.”
Ní Aogáin also mentioned how the Level 5 restrictions will further this: “Level 5 restrictions are going to affect my college experience quite drastically as I’ve only started in first year at NCAD, in a practical course.
“It’s been hard settling in and trying to make friends while socially distanced with masks on, because you can’t see their faces and the conversation is so muffled. I feel like we’re missing out on so many opportunities that come up in the first year of college – it’s not the same and it’s understandable but it still sucks.”
Isobel Lord, a final year Technological University Dublin student said: “In regard to Wi-Fi connection, my one has held up so far. I haven’t actually had any issues with it surprisingly. There was a girl in my course last year who did not have a computer so she literally couldn’t do online college.
“There are some people in my course and my friends who share bedrooms with people, and both of them could be doing college work at the same time, which can be very stressful. Then there are people who have family members who are working from home as well so when they’re all on the same Wi-Fi box at the same time they’re going to be running slow.”
Lord also mentioned how online work is affecting her studies on a practical course. “I’m doing an arts degree which is 99% practical work,” she explained. “We did hands on stuff in class such as how to manipulate fabric and stuff like that which is not really something you can teach through a computer screen.
“I also had to complete window displays which usually would be all practical, but we had to move online to Sketch Up, which is a graphic design program and became a huge part of our course working from home. I cannot even tell you how difficult, stressful and pressurizing that was. My grades went down so much [working from home] because I’m someone who is terrible with computers and tech.”
Teresa Walsh, a third-year student, spoke about how her mandatory attendance is being affected as a result of working from home. “I’d say overall my internet connection is fairly average but because I live slightly out of the town it’s not always the best,” she said. “If there are many people at home working from home or doing schoolwork, I find then the internet wont work. This is obviously very annoying if my class won’t load as I have mandatory attendance so at times, I feel like I’m at more of a disadvantage than my friends.”