TORONTO -- The challenges of online learning have some post-secondary students in Toronto exploring the option of deferring their studies.

For Sarah Palombi, losing face-to-face interaction with teachers and classmates has been difficult.

The 18-year-old is a first-year geography student at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. From Zoom calls to dozens of PDF files, she’s found the screen time challenging.

“I have three classes right now, I had to drop two because last semester having five courses online was kind of hard,” Palombi said.

Her friend Sara Wingle, 18, deferred her admission to Wilfrid Laurier University.

“When this pandemic hit, I just kind of decided that it was the best option for me because I’m really not good with online learning,” she said.

A spokesperson at U of T said that while its retention numbers have stayed relatively the same, there have been many more deferrals.

There were 539 deferrals in 2020, according to the school. That’s up from 314 in 2019.

However, the school said the increase won’t impact resources for newer applicants.

“Deferrals are only a small percentage of our actual enrolment numbers so have little impact on our planning,” the spokesperson said.

Other post-secondary schools in Toronto told CTV News that they are accommodating students as best they can.

“Seneca has worked hard to support our students inside and outside the virtual classroom, and we have increased our domestic and international enrolment as a result. We continue to provide students the technological resources, community-building activities and academic support to help them learn successfully online and stay connected with peers and professors,” said spokesperson Caroline Grech in an e-mailed statement.

“We do not expect this trend to impact the number of first time applicant students York will admit during the 21/22 academic year,” said Yanni Dagonas, Deputy Spokesperson for York University.

Palombi said her part-time course-load is a little easier, but if remote learning continues next year she will likely defer.

Meantime, Wingle is happy with her decision to defer and said she’s used the time to work and save up money to pay for tuition.