Student resources still available — from a distance
Now about to wrap up her second year at Illinois College, Emily Baalman '22 knows the value of asking for help.
It’s a lesson that has helped her as her classes changed abruptly from a traditional face-to-face format to a remote one. The biology major said the transition has been the most difficult part of remote learning and classes with labs have presented additional challenges.
Of those, physics was a class she had sought tutoring help in this semester — before leaving campus for her hometown of Hardin. When IC made the decision to suspend face-to-face instruction, her tutor from the Center for Academic Excellence reached out to let her know he was still available. Baalman also regularly meets up on Zoom with a friend who helps her with her physics coursework.
"The hardest part is kind of accepting that you need the help."
"The hardest part is kind of accepting that you need the help,” she said. “Because I'm a very independent person, so I think, 'Oh, I'll figure it out.'”
When Baalman left campus the day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois’ stay-at-home order, the adjustment wasn’t just a change in the format of her classes. The cancellation of her softball season has meant more time to spend on her classes, but she’s also been busy helping out with her family’s bar and restaurant.
"Right now we have a drive through and we have been the busiest that we've ever been,” she said. “So, I've been working there literally from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day. It's been crazy, but it's been manageable. I'm just thankful to have something to stay busy with."
Getting help from other people helps Baalman understand the "why" behind some of the conceptual things that trip her up in her coursework. Being able to ask questions about how to get an answer — not just knowing the correct answer — can be really important, she said.
"I've just gotten to the point where, if I can't help myself anymore, other people are definitely my resources and it's been great to have people who are willing to help me out," she said.
Despite the transition being a challenge, Baalman feels confident finishing out her classes. She said the process of adjusting to remote learning was a learning experience for both herself and the faculty. She is communicating a lot with her professors, who have been reaching out, offering help and answering her questions. She also regularly meets on Zoom with her lab manager, Rayyan Yassin '12, about her work.
“And that's something that's so helpful — knowing that they're on the same team as you and trying to get you through this,” she said. “You can definitely tell that they're feeling for you and they're feeling the same pain that you are."
Baalman has also been able to stay connected and get support outside of her classes from her softball team and Individual Success Advisor, staff member Nikki Overcash. The softball season being canceled was a loss, Baalman said, but her team has stayed positive and kept in touch with weekly game nights and regular check-ins from her coaches with video chats. Her first Zoom meeting with Overcash, lead academic coach in the Center for Academic Excellence, was the first time they had met, but Baalman said her ISA has been a great resource.
"She has been a great resource for anything I have been unsure about, as well as encouraging me, keeping me on the right track and telling me to give myself a break every once in a while,” Baalman said.