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Why I Think Online Learning Helped Me Grow

As much as I’m so ready to be done with Zoom classes, I can’t help but notice how this kind of educational environment has really changed my perspective and mindset. When the pandemic hit back in March of 2020, I was just reaching the end of my Freshman year in college, and just like everyone else, I had no idea what I was walking into, and had no idea where this strange pause on everyday life would take me. 

Adapting to the College Experience Online

One thing I’m so grateful for was how the online adjustments gave me a chance to step back, take a breath and look at my college experience so far. Everything had been moving so fast; I was coming across so many new people, situations and opportunities that it made it increasingly difficult to make decisions for myself and my future. My first two semesters of college seemed like I was just going with the flow and struggling to keep up — I was enjoying myself, but I was so overwhelmed and confused. Online learning, while it has its faults, gave me more time in my day and more time to myself. I remember registering for classes around April of 2020, and realizing how much I needed to figure out; it was a turning point. I was able to evaluate what I wanted to do with my major, and I finally had the time to think of ideas or plans on how I was going to work on getting the most I could out of my college experience. I decided that I wanted to get more involved, and to do that I was going to have to make more time in my schedule and use my time more efficiently. No more waiting until the last minute to study for exams, and no more being unorganized. I had always been motivated, but being forced to step away from the intensity and hectic nature of a first year college experience gave me more insight towards what I need to be focused on. 

What I Will Take Away From This Past Year 

Like a lot of freshmen, I had virtually no idea what I wanted to gain from college or even from my degree! I’m not totally sure how my schedule next year will measure up with the one I’ve become accustomed to today, but at least I have a better understanding of my goals and what I need to get out of each day, week, semester and year. I know that not everyone has (or will have) the opportunity to remove themselves from the stress of their daily college life, but I would absolutely recommend taking a step back at some point and evaluating how you are handling the fast-pace environment and lifestyle that accompanies college. Enjoying yourself is important, and ultimately a very attractive aspect of campus life, but make sure that you are able to spend just as much time finding a way to enjoy and really become invested in your academic life as well. 

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have been able to come to these realizations without the pandemic affecting my campus experience, but I am thankful that it happened when it did. So, as I am looking back after learning virtually for the past year, I can definitely say that I’ve had to make changes — some big and some small, but all for the better. Hopefully you find some kind of advice in my realizations, but my main takeaway would be just to slow down when you can. Being able to grow from this kind of online environment was not something I was expecting, but it is something that I will always be thankful for in a strange way. 

Eileen Quinn

Illinois State '23

Junior at Illinois State University studying marketing and communications.
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