Students discuss the transition to remote learning

student typing on laptop

It’s been a month since NYU initiated remote learning to combat the spread of COVID-19 throughout the city. Since then, students and faculty have navigated many changes together, from the shift to online learning to the closure of residence halls. Everyone has adapted admirably to maintain the rigorous standards of a Tandon education in the face of these unforeseen challenges. Below are a few perspectives from Tandon students who have been moving forward during an unprecedented time and engaging in critical conversations about the myriad positive and negative effects of these changes:

Nayab Butt (’20, Biomedical Sciences) 

I’m a commuter student, so this has probably been an easier adjustment for me than for others. Remote learning has been interesting, and I’ve found it effective. Nonetheless, I feel heartbroken for all of us who are having a very different senior-year experience than we envisioned. For example, I’m deeply involved in the Poly Project, which is a community service initiative, and last year we worked with children of incarcerated parents; this year we were planning to work with a group helping the LGBT community, but that’s on hold for now, and it’s a major disappointment. 

Amidst the challenges and disappointments, however, it’s been awe-inspiring to watch Dean Jelena lead our community. As new information comes to light and the university makes decisions that affect us, she keeps us updated in a transparent and effective way, and she is always reassuring. I feel proud to have her as an example."

Karan Ganta (’20, Computer Science) 

I feel blessed to have experienced residential life as much as I did because that’s an invaluable part of attending college. Still, as a computer science major, it hasn’t been much of a challenge for me to adapt to remote learning and the technology it involves. Maybe the silver lining in all this is that the whole world is now seeing the benefits of going digital, and that could result in increased need for innovative, new online applications."


Nikki Ong (’20, Civil and Urban Engineering) 

From my experience, I've been able to be more efficient with my time. Senior design project classes have been pretty tricky because they are mostly group work, but we're adjusting and everyday it gets easier. My lab research has been suspended, which I'm pretty bummed about, but I think it gives me a chance to focus on the writing and literature review aspect of the research, so that's nice. Overall, things are going pretty well — all things considered."

JP Delavin (’20, Financial Engineering) 

I have so much free time now and fewer distractions, so I actually find it easier to focus on schoolwork and my internship. I have also been catching up with friends, both here in the U.S. and back in the Philippines, through Zoom and Houseparty, an app where you can play games like trivia and Pictionary with the other participants. 

However, online classes are proving to be very challenging, especially for classes that require professors to do calculations on the whiteboard. Hopefully, things get better as both students and professors get used to this remote university setup. Although things are not easy, I am sure, we all understand that staying at home is what's best for everyone's health and safety."

Jaimee Dellipoali (’21, Technology, Culture and Society) 

I think we’ll be seeing a movement away from formality in the classroom, through email, and in relationships we have with one another. I already feel a change in how we interact in the virtual classroom, as it somehow seems more personal and intimate to invite your peers into your home — your safe space — through the screen than any physical closeness. I find myself sending casual emails to my professors, just to make sure they are healthy and have an outlet for stress. I don’t think these are bad practices. Breaking down some of the barriers we’ve had in the past, the rigid and complete separation of personal life and academia, will actually allow us to connect in a more fulfilling and genuine way moving forward. I hope the flexibility, understanding, and empathy we are fostering now through online teaching will stick with us when we return to in-person university life."  

Nelson James (’21, Technology, Culture and Society) 

For two and a half years I attended an on-line high school, so I’m very comfortable with distance learning. It was a nontraditional program aimed at students with jobs, serious athletes, or anyone else unable to attend in-person classes during the day. It was a necessity for me because as a teenager I had a day job, working at a middle school in Florida to develop core curriculum for introductory courses in video and television production and assisted other instructors in implementing technology-based initiatives.

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges. Because NYU Tandon students come from all over the world, now that we’re dispersed, time zones can become an issue. Still, professors are doing everything they can and if we work together things will work out for us all."

What remains clear across these responses is the dedication of Tandon’s students, not only to their education but to innovation itself. Despite the challenges they face, they optimistically embrace the unknown as an opportunity. Times may be tough right now, but with attitudes like these, the future looks bright.