As SAIT students reach out for help with their online classes, SAIT Student Services are busier than ever before.
“Our numbers for accessibility have more than doubled from last year,” said Lenore Norris, manager of the Lamb Learner Success Centre.
According to Norris, students requesting guidance after classes start is typical; however, the uptick was noticeable because the year before saw about a 20 per cent drop in students accessing their services and in the overall attendance at SAIT.
“We had a lot of people that deferred coming to school,” said Norris. “I think our numbers dropped all around [SAIT].”
Joseph Hudson, an academic coach with SAIT who works out of the Lamb Learner Success Centre, said he hasn’t seen a decrease in his meetings with students, but rather the focus of his sessions has been about adapting to online learning.
Hudson said that there is an even split of students that enjoy online learning versus those that have a hard time learning online, with a few more students saying they’ve had a hard time adjusting to the online world.
Mature students and those fresh out of high school struggle with online learning due to technological challenges and different approaches to online learning.
“Some students don’t go through that same level of preparation for online [learning] than they would have if it was face-to-face,” said Hudson.
“Students may have an 8 a.m. class, so if they were coming to campus, they’d be getting up at 5-6 o’clock, going through their routine, getting their coffee, having their breakfast, taking a shower, commuting to SAIT, and all along they’re mentally preparing themselves to walk into the class.”
Hudson added that with online learning, some students can roll out of bed minutes before the class, still half asleep, and keep their cameras off while they go about their routine, appearing to be in class without being present.
Hudson does his part to help the students that see him, and when asked about the connections and benefits he has made, he said, “I’ve got students that have graduated that still write to me on a regular basis.”
“Mental health stigma is still so real to a lot of students. The fear of going to counselling and not feeling safe in that space does prevent a lot of people from actively seeking help,” said Colleen Burnett, manager of Student Experiences with SAITSA.
Norris, however, believes that mental health stigma has changed.
“We’ve normalized [mental health], and I think that’s what’s so important. You don’t have to wait until you’re absolutely in trouble to come get some support. You can do it even if you’re a straight-A student,” said Norris.
When asked about what to say to someone who is hesitant about accessing their services, Hudson said, “What have you got to lose?”
“There’s a little bit of time, of course, but what you have to gain is a lot less frustration [with classes] and a lot better use of your time with getting to the goals that you want to achieve.”