By Julia Tuck
For a lot of students prior to the year 2020, the thought of going to school was a nightmare. More precisely, the act of waking up at the crack of dawn, racing to the bathroom and brushing your teeth, shoving two slices of bread down your throat to then hurl yourself into a classroom with people you barely liked was nauseating… and yet, there is something about this traditional style of education that I miss so much. This fall, I decided to take my schooling entirely virtual or “online” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, I really did not have the choice since my parents decided it was not reasonable to send me back since all my classes had gone online. I agreed to suck it up and stay home for this semester thinking it really could not be that bad since most people had online classes anyway. So, I would not be the only one. I can assure you that I was wrong.
After only a few weeks into my “spectacular, low-stress virtual experience,” I find myself even more wishing I was on campus. Sure, being on campus did have some negatives, such as the dining halls and cafeteria food. Still, I must admit that I would not mind a stale slice of pizza even at this point if that meant I could sit with my friends. I miss true social interactions where I would mosey down my dorm hall and briefly speak to my peers. I also miss rushing to the library with friends between classes to cram doing work or studying before another class. I miss it all… and online learning is making this all even worse. The moments of being called on to answer a question when I could barely hear the professor lecturing make me want to turn off my camera and go back to sleep. The quality of learning online is not only unreasonable, but it is without much value. I have noticed that the small interactions between students prior and during class have been lost. The online classroom does not provide real interaction, and half the time there are audio issues, so it is almost impossible to learn in-depth. It is also equally distracting when the professor teaching in the hybrid model does not know how to make the camera focus or the audio to work, leaving the online students to sit in bewilderment. The situation is also exacerbated when the WiFi decides it is overloaded with too many devices and crashes out. Clearly, this is not how I envisioned how my education would turn out.
I suppose the main point I am trying to make here is that online or “virtual-only” experiences will never replace in-person moments – whether that be rushing to class and smiling at a passerby to physically raising a hand in the classroom. Of course, people need to be responsible and comply with pandemic regulations, but this will never truly be an ideal system for life. I think that the “new normal” is unfortunate, but there should not be value removed from the idea that real-life moments are better. To conclude, if you are given the option to study on campus with your classmates following necessary precautions, I urge you to beg your parents to let you do so because some interaction with people your age is better than only online.