Being home

WWU student, Caleb Froelich, discovers challenges and rewards of studying online

Students from Walla Walla University returned to their homes across the United States at the end of winter quarter to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Caleb Froelich, a senior electrical engineering and applied mathematics double major from Thurmont, Maryland, shares what his life is like taking classes online in this new world of COVID-19 challenges.

What challenges have you experienced studying remotely?
Online school is not a new experience for me. I was homeschooled for all of my life before college and took many online classes. However, classes this quarter have posed many challenges that I have had to work through. For one, a couple of my classes have ditched the traditional way of learning (homework and tests) and in its stead have placed a large project to be completed by the end of the quarter. I am not a fan of this approach; I personally love tests and homework, and the thought of all my grade hanging on one project is quite intimidating to me.

What do you appreciate about being at home during spring quarter?
Having classes remotely offers it’s share of challenges, but also has a silver lining: being home. I greatly love my home and the people in it. This recent shift in the educational paradigm has made it possible for me to eat meals with my family, work side-by-side with my dad on yard work and other projects, and participate in other family activities.

How does the time difference affect your interaction with classes and friends?
The time zone difference has greatly affected my interaction with classes and my friends. I used to go to bed fairly early, but now being three hours ahead and working on projects with classmates from the West Coast, my bedtime has shifted later into the evening. Classes in labs are difficult with the time change as well. One of my classes doesn’t end till 9:00 in the evening on my time zone.

What is your daily routine like? Can you get outside?
My days are full with a lot of homework and work for my job. Unfortunately, COVID hasn’t made my homework load any lighter. Many times I’ll work from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock at night on homework, with only a few breaks in between. Meal times are quite sacred in our house; since we all are home quarantined we try to take time to eat together. One big negative to my current daily routine is that I spend way too much time on the computer each day. Honestly though, I don’t really know how to avoid it, all my classes, labs, textbooks, homework, and projects are electronically accessible. Thankfully I can get outside where I live, but my schedule prevents me from spending too much time outdoors. I do try to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day.

Do you know anyone who has COVID-19?
Nobody really close to me has COVID-19. A few church members and family acquaintances have had it, but none of them have died or even gotten seriously sick.

If you could go back six weeks and live one thing over again exactly the way it happened, what would it be?
I’m really not sure, probably just go back and enjoy some quality time with my friends.

What has been your favorite aspect of online school so far?
Being home. That’s about it though. I wouldn’t mind online classes so much if I wasn’t taking STEM classes. Not being able to interface with my professors is really rough.

How is this experience causing you to grow?
The whole experience is teaching me to relish and savor every moment with my family. Even though the virus hasn’t directly affected the health of anyone close to me, it has caused me to realize how precious time is. Next year I will be a senior and after graduation I will be headed off to grad school, hopefully. My sister will probably be getting a job after graduation; and maybe she’ll even move away. Next year a lot of things will change. Thus, I’m glad for the time spent here, right now, with my family. Knowing that time like this is short, I’ve been motivated to be the best son, brother, and friend I can be.

Posted May 18, 2020

Young man in a red shirt against a dark background. He is smiling at the camera.
Caleb Froelich is a senior electrical engineering and applied mathematics double major.