Why the struggle is real for Engineering students in online courses


The top 5 reasons why engineers are struggling to do well online

Why the Struggle is Real for Engineering Students in Online Courses. Spoiler alert: all of our motivation came from free coffee and slushie fridays...
Stock photo by Belle White, Photo Editor.

After enduring an agonizing 10 months of online classes, I’ve learned a lot about why engineering students are struggling to learn from home. Here are my top 5 reasons for why online learning is so difficult for engineers, as told by a second-year Computer Engineering (CEng) student who moved back in with their parents during the pandemic.

1. The duties of living at home

My parents love to make sure that I stay ‘well-rounded’, and they certainly keep me on my toes doing things to help out the family. There are countless examples of things that I’ve been enlisted to do that take away precious studying time; being required to cook meals twice a week, having to wash the dishes after every meal I don’t help with, or being enlisted as tech support just for being a CEng student (I’m not even a computer science student, how would I know why the printer isn’t working?). 

The amount of time that I spend on studying just continually keeps falling with all the additional obligations thrust upon me. During final exam season, I was forced to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie the night before a calculus exam!

2. A loss of freedom

While I was living in Victoria, I could more or less spend my time how I want and schedule my own day. Now, I have to be a ‘responsible human being’ that is awake during more similar hours to my parents. Having to wake up at a reasonable time instead of 3pm is probably a good idea, but I like being a vampire— what engineering student doesn’t? 

Being awake while the sun shines through my windows just makes the glare on my monitors worse! Plus, I keep being told to ‘go outside’ and ‘get some exercise’ despite the new lockdown orders. How ridiculous is that? Why would I willingly go outside and get exposed to people?

3. Problematic internet

Nothing is more annoying than sites going down during exams, and that sure does keep happening. Whether it be CourseSpaces crashing back in the spring term during one of my finals, or Pearson being down for maintenance every second day because they can’t guarantee server stability, there have been way too many issues! Plus, to get an internet connection here, I can’t even rely on wifi, so I had to run a 100-foot ethernet cable outside the house to guarantee a connection, since the router is so far away. Even the professors are struggling to maintain a connection. Other students have had their professors suddenly leave class due to power or wi-fi outages. 

4. A lack of ESS slushies and coffee

This is obviously the most important reason that us engineering students can’t manage to study properly online! The absence of Engineering Student Society’s free coffee and slushie fridays are the main reason that we’re all struggling. Hopefully the ESS reopens their office soon; I expect to see a direct correlation between slushie availability and my grades next term. The amount of nice people to talk to and that are willing to help out that hang out in the ESS office is just a bonus.

5. Procrastination 

Ah yes, our old friend procrastination. The disruption of the work-life balance to have everything on one computer has been seriously problematic for studying. Even if I force myself to study, I’m constantly distracted by a flood of YouTube videos, memes about final exams on r/UVic, and the ever-present library of PC games waiting to be played. Plus, whenever I get distracted, my dad always walks in to ask why I’m not studying for my exams! At least writing a Martlet article instead of practicing for my finals looks enough like ‘studying’ to pass it off as being productive.

Special thanks to Michael John Lo for inspiring me to write this article.