Academics

Transitioning to Online Courses

McIntire's M.S. in Accounting Program moved all coursework online in mid-March for the remainder of the spring semester, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Student Josh VanWingerden shares how he has navigated the transition.

On Wednesday afternoon, March 11, I was sitting in my parents’ windowless basement drinking Baja Blast and playing Halo 2. Just kidding.

In reality, I was studying—in my parents’ windowless basement—for the Regulation portion of the CPA Exam that I was scheduled to take in a few weeks. Suddenly, the M.S. in Accounting group chat began to get a lot of new messages. “All classes will be held online for the foreseeable future. A decision for the reminder of the semester will be reassessed on April 5” was the short version of the message we received.

Days passed, and more information regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic was released. The University of Virginia and our McIntire professors began to share the logistics of moving the remainder of the semester online. For the most part, our courses haven’t changed drastically. Syllabi were adjusted slightly, and all students were given the option of pass/fail or receiving a grade. We still meet at our scheduled class times, just virtually via Zoom. Professors still hold office hours virtually, still go above and beyond in ensuring we learn and receive the best explanations possible, and, of course, still hold us to the same standard that was established during our time on Grounds.

The most challenging thing about virtual classes is establishing a routine. As the semester has progressed, we have naturally gotten busier. With multiple deadlines and my classmates relying on me for my contributions to our group work, I haven’t struggled getting the work done or collaborating. The bigger challenge for me is being in the same spot, with the same surroundings. I have started to venture upstairs for a little vitamin D every now and again to have a change of scenery.

A large component of the Program is group work. When UVA released the official decision to move online through the end of the semester, I was concerned how group assignments and meetings were going to progress. With the user friendliness of Zoom, which allows us to share screens and see each other’s faces, the ability to continue working with individuals regardless of their location has been one of the highlights of this quarantine. I have really enjoyed the ability to stay connected and work with my classmates. I would even argue that group meetings are more productive online. Individuals are more willing to put a time limit on meetings, as opposed to at school, where we’d sometimes sit around aimlessly talking.

While I would much rather be in Charlottesville, I am not afraid to admit that in the long run, this unfortunate reality will likely better prepare us for our careers. I have learned to motivate myself and adapt on the fly. Oftentimes, the best thing to do—perhaps the only thing to do—is to accept what has happened and continue working towards your ultimate goal. And, hopefully, the working world will be more open to remote work because we now have firsthand experience!

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