Calvin profs, your students aren’t just tired. We’re hurting

Dear Calvin professors, 

We are trying our best; we really are.

And unlike what one of my professors recently suggested, being tired and stuck at home is not what is interrupting our education. Believe me, we know what being tired is like, but that is not what is happening now. These last few months have been tough, and there are so many different things weighing on us. 

Having to watch my grandpa’s funeral over Zoom while alone in my room, seeing two hurricanes devastate my home country and not being able to talk to my parents because they had no electricity or phone signal for a week, saying unexpected goodbyes to friends who I may never see again, and accepting that the college experience that helped me grow so much over the last three years abruptly ended in March is not tiredness.

Until now, I haven’t had the time to process all these changes because I sit behind a screen day after day, going through the laundry list of assignments I have to complete.

I am not writing this for  pity or to suggest you don’t care, but because I want to remind you that behind those initials  on Microsoft Teams and names on Moodle forum posts, there is a whole person with fears and dreams trying their best under less-than-ideal circumstances. We need to recognize that the mental health and wellbeing of college students is an ongoing challenge – one that the pandemic has exacerbated – and, one that an email with a link to the Center for Counseling and Wellness, as helpful as it can be, won’t fix. 

We need professors to be aware, accepting, and supportive as we face these challenges. What this would look like I’m not exactly sure, but this is where I would start:

Share with us how your life has been disrupted. We know professors are going through their own challenges that we know nothing about, but there is no need to pretend like they do not exist. Be honest with us, because when you are, you let us know that you don’t only care about our academic performance but also value us as individuals. 

Additionally, reach out to get feedback on how students think the class is going and whether the tools being used are helpful. Do not wait until the end of the semester to find out how it could improve. And no, getting blank stares after you ask a class of 20 students how they think the class is going does not count as feedback. 

And to those professors that have been aware and supportive during this past semester, we notice and deeply appreciate your efforts. Just last week one of my professors shared a presentation with the class about the things we had been doing “awesome” this semester, and immediately I got a message from a friend saying how encouraging it was to hear that. So, it doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but when we see that you sincerely care, it goes a long way in reassuring us that we are not alone in this and that we are understood. 


An overwhelmed college student