A Reflection on One Year of Online School

It has been almost a full year since the pandemic began last March. My first day of online classes happened on March 17 last year, which is only a few weeks away. The anniversary has been making me think a lot about everything that has changed since this all began. 

Before the pandemic, I was an athlete. I was on the sailing team here at BU, and my free time was consumed with participating in practices and competitions. I had practice Tuesday through Friday from 2:30-5:30pm, and regattas happened all day Saturday and Sunday. My only free afternoon was on Mondays, and I used that time strictly for napping. Needless to say, I was a busy girl. Before 2:30 I was doing class, and after 5:30 I was doing homework. I squeezed in meals when they fit, and I was constantly on the move. 

I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically proven that being more busy makes you more productive. I was like a well-oiled machine on a schedule of school, practice, work, and sleep on repeat. My grades were good, my mental health was good, generally speaking life itself was pretty good.

Then came the pandemic that changed everything. 

A vector illustration representing the Earth wearing a mask. Photo from Pixabay

During the fall of 2019 I was sailing every single day, and now I haven’t really sailed since March of 2020. My identity as an athlete feels like it is slowly slipping away with each passing day that I’m not on the water. Now, I go on walks every day to keep myself busy because there isn’t enough homework to fill all this freetime. Even so, somehow I’m always cramming to get work done at the last minute. How does that happen?

I don’t think online school has been as bad for me as it has for other students. My grades aren’t tanking, I haven’t failed any classes, and I try my best to attend all of my Zoom lectures. Still, what has been hit the hardest is my work ethic.

The difference between getting up, getting dressed, and going to an in person class versus getting up, not getting dressed, and sitting at your desk in your bedroom is enormous. I didn’t notice it at first because I’m an introvert and online school didn’t seem all that bad to me, but now, a year later, I’m starting to feel the repercussions. 

The things we are missing from real life school include student-teacher relationships, student-student relationships, and actual class. College students already skipped class when it was in person, but now skipping class has been made 10x easier with Zoom recordings. The only problem is that we tell ourselves we’ll watch those recordings later and then we never get around to it. So, on top of missing those relationships, we’re also missing the school itself. 

woman looking at a computer while wearing a mask Photo by engin akyurt from Unsplash

I am finally losing my will to go to class, and I think many other students lost that will a long time ago. I originally thought there would be a huge grade deflation because online classes seemed so much easier than in-person classes with in-person exams. But now, I think we’re gonna be seeing a huge dip in grades due to the effects of this pandemic.

My situation is not unique. I know tons of other college students that have had to take time off because online learning is not conducive to their academic success. I also know tons of other college students whose sports and livelihoods have been taken away because of social distancing restrictions. It’s taking a toll on all of us, I think.

The question I have is when will it end? When will we be able to go back to life as we once knew it? That answer, unfortunately, is still to be determined.

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