By Zoe Elledge
Adapting to campus life in the age of Covid-19
Katherine Book is a first-year student from San Antonio, Texas and the first in her family to attend an out-of-state college. Book opted to live on campus this semester and enjoys a more traditional dorm setting for her first year. Despite living in the dorms, social distancing makes it difficult to meet new people as a first-year. Book describes the Covid-19 situation on campus as being relatively safe but still precarious, saying that “most of the anxiety comes from not knowing what will happen."
We sat down with Book to ask a few questions about her first few weeks at Tech and the benefits and challenges of campus life.
Why did you choose BME at Georgia Tech?
Honestly, I was split between biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and public health at the University of Texas at Austin, so I spoke to admissions officers from both schools about the opportunities of each. I found that Georgia Tech had many more options through research, internships and career exploration compared to UT, and I was more comfortable with the size of Tech. I’m interested in medical sciences and international relations, so the CDC and Atlanta’s travel opportunities drew me here as well.
What are your impressions of Georgia Tech’s campus? What struck you when you first saw it?
I really like the secluded feeling of campus while still being located near downtown. The buildings portrayed that traditional college aesthetic that I wanted to be exposed to. The effort toward sustainability in the new buildings impressed me as well.
What is it like to live on campus?
I love being in the dorm setting. Even though all my classes are virtual, I am glad I get to stay in the dorms and have that experience. It is a little difficult to meet new people since we’re not really allowed to have guests or to visit the other floors. However, I still have 30 or so other floor-mates, so it’s nice to get to know them and have the traditional college dorm experience together.
Do you feel safe on campus? How have you been trying to stay safe, and what has been working well for you?
We are required to wear masks in the dorm halls and common spaces, and there are limits on the number of people allowed in them. Since most of our classes are online, a good deal of us attend class in our dorm rooms. We also leave to study in the library, CULC, or other open buildings every so often. We have asymptomatic testing open Monday through Friday. My dorm has done very well with our percentage of testers, but I am a bit concerned about what might happen if a hotspot develops within our dorm or if someone on my floor gets sick. Even with the precautions in place, we’re still living closely together, so I feel it will spread quickly regardless. Most of the anxiety comes from not knowing what will happen, though, so until then we can just do our best to prevent that from happening.
What do you think about the hybrid models of instruction you have been exposed to so far?
About half of my classes are doing a flipped model of teaching, meaning we read the textbook, watch recorded lectures in our own time, and then work on practice problems during class with our professor. Personally, I don’t like this system. I work better solving problems on my own and attending lectures in person. Some classes have breakout sessions with other students, and if I want to attend those, I need to be in a place where I can talk without bothering other people, which isn’t really an option in some of the study spaces on campus. However, I think the virtual model works well for classes like GT 1000, since it’s once a week and consists mostly of projects that can be done online.
What is your favorite class so far?
If I had to choose one class to be my favorite, it would be CHEM 1211K with Dr. Shepler. She has done an excellent job setting up the class and giving us all the necessary information each day, which I really appreciate, since it’s hard to keep track of all the different textbook platforms and online assignments. I also have a chem lab, and though everything is virtual, I enjoy being able to apply the concepts we learn.
Do you have any advice for other students?
I would strongly advise getting an agenda, calendar, or app to organize yourself. I have all three, and it helps me to stay on track and not get lost in the virtual landscape. I also use the My Study Life app, where I put in all my classes, tests and quizzes, so I don’t miss anything. I use my agenda for day-to-day tasks, like readings and homework assignments. It’s easy to procrastinate, and once you start it’s hard to stop. Take everything one day at a time, but make sure you know what’s ahead as well.
What are your hopes for the future of your student experience and career?
I hope to have the chance to study abroad through GT Lorraine and to volunteer for research. After college, I want to attend medical school. I’m not sure what type of doctor I want to be yet, but I plan to use the rest of my college career to explore different fields. My future goal is to one day work for the Executive Board of the World Health Organization or to work for the CDC