Supporting our students during the Fall 2020 term

Dear Colleagues, 

In less than two weeks the new semester will begin. We know this upcoming term has required a tremendous amount of preparation and we thank you for your effort and grit during this difficult time. This is the first of a series of emails that provides information about the coming term. In this first email, we would like to share some information regarding our students that may be helpful to you. This email contains several sections:

  • Major takeaways of the Fall 2020 Student Plans Surveys sent to undergraduate, SUGS, international graduate, and domestic graduate students. Individual departmental reports will be forwarded to Department Chairs as a follow up email this week. 
  • Recommendations for interacting with your students this semester. 
  • Resources for students.   

Thank you again for your hard work over the summer. We’ll be in touch again soon. 

Be safe and healthy,

Joanna Millunchick, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Mary-Ann Mycek, Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Education 

As you may know, earlier this month we surveyed our students regarding their plans for the Fall 2020 term. We asked them to provide information on where they will be living during the term, their concerns for the term, and their technology needs. 

Please find attached a summary of the CoE-wide data for undergraduate, SUGS, domestic graduate, and international graduate students. In addition, please find below some of the key takeaways from the survey. 

Graduate Student Plans for Fall Attendance: Both international and domestic graduate students are closely split regarding their plans to attend in-person vs. remote, although there are slightly more domestic graduate students planning to attend completely online. The majority of SUGS students, however, plan to attend in-person when available. 

Living Plans: The vast majority (>80%) of domestic students plan to live in or near Ann Arbor (either in residence halls or in off-campus housing).

Most (~70%) international graduate students also plan to live in or near Ann Arbor, though nearly 23% plan to live in a permanent residence outside the U.S. 

Timezones: The vast majority (>90%) of domestic students will be in the Eastern Time Zone. Nearly 22% of international graduate students will be in China Taiwan Time. 

Student Concerns: Students ranked a variety of (16+) concerns related to their experiences this fall. The following are the top 5 concerns per group, in order: 

  • Undergraduate
    • Quality of and access to courses; 
    • having to close campus due to an outbreak; 
    • interacting with peers; 
    • interacting with instructors and office hours; and
    • participating in extracurricular activities.
  • SUGS
    • Interacting with peers; 
    • interacting with people who don’t follow social distancing guidelines; 
    • interacting with instructors; 
    • COVID-19; and
    • socializing with friends/making friends.
  • Domestic Graduate
    • Interacting with peers; 
    • socializing with friends/making friends;
    • COVID-19; 
    • interacting with people who don’t follow social distancing guidelines; and
    • interacting with instructors.
  • International Graduate
    • COVID-19; 
    • interacting with instructors;
    • interacting with people who don’t follow social distancing guidelines; 
    • interacting with peers; and
    • research progress.

Technology access: The vast majority of all groups (>92%) have access to a personal computer that meets the minimum requirements. The college is reaching out to the students who report not having an appropriate computer.

For those who know/are able to test, very few (<8%) few respondents from each group reported not having access to the recommended broadband speeds. The college is reaching out to the students who report not having an appropriate broadband.

Except for students on campus, fewer students (<40%) in each group have access to a printer.


As you are aware, this coming term will be a difficult one for many of our students, who may be facing a number of unprecedented hardships. We ask that our faculty continue to be as flexible and empathetic as possible. Below are some suggestions for what instructors can do to better support our students:

  • Be transparent around course expectations.
    • Use Canvas as a gateway to your course materials.
    • In addition to participating in lectures and discussion sections synchronously, consider other modes of participation such as contributing to discussion forums, quizzes, or short answer assignments on lecture material.
    • Consider providing asynchronous students a schedule for watching lectures, working on assignments, etc.
    • Keep in mind that few students have access to printing.
  • Consider more ways to engage students in the classroom
    • Hold both group office hours and individual office hours.
    • Consider creating study groups so that students have peers with which to interact.
    • Consider creating ways for students to engage with one another and the instructional staff on non-academic topics. 

Most importantly, please check-in regularly with students to make sure they are engaged and have access to course material and technologies. Be aware of changes in student behavior, particularly if a student stops participating in your course. We strongly encourage you to reach out to students who appear to be struggling or who are not actively engaged in the course. 


Please be aware that there are a number of resources available to help students during this time:  


Mental Health Support: 

Academic Support: 

Technical Support: 

  • There is a university wide laptop loaner program: Sites @ Home program
  • Students who have other technology needs should contact Olivia Gunther (ogunther) from the Office of Student Affairs.

International Students:

General COVID-Related Information:

Student Organizations & Leadership: 

Career Resources: 

For students with concerns that do not fall in any of the above categories should contact the Office of Student Affairs ( Additionally, please keep an eye on the Campus Operations section of the College’s COVID site for updates and announcements.