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The Truth About Attending University Online

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

After spending a year and a half of high school online (due to Covid-19), I finally graduated and began the supposedly brand-new, life-changing chapter of my life––university. Surprise, surprise, it is not so new, not so life changing, and honestly, not that exciting. Currently, I am doing my prestigious undergraduate degree from my bedroom, living off-campus and doing all my courses virtually. First of all – why do we use the word ‘virtually’? Virtually makes it sound too glamorous, as if I have holograms of my professors coming out of my screen. Why not call it ‘Zoom University’ – which is only really applicable if your professors decide not to pre-record the lectures and whether you have enough motivation to actually attend. Why isn’t this the selling point universities use to explain their new, advanced technology to first-year students?

So, to answer the following question: “What do you wish someone told you before starting university online?”, here’s the quickest, most honest and useful answer you will ever need to hear.

Hearing your professor’s voice after watching weeks’ worth of pre-recorded lectures at 2x speed will be weird and confusing.

Almost all of your lectures will be recorded, which adds another excuse (to the list you’re making in your head right now) about whether or not you should attend the live lecture. After procrastinating for days––which quickly turn into weeks––you actually have to prepare for that quiz, assignment or test by forcing yourself to sit at your desk at 1 AM and listen to all those missed recorded lectures. Realizing that your lectures are three-hours long, you change the playback speed to 2x the original speed and lean back in your chair feeling like the genius that you are. In retrospect, it does mess you up when you actually decide to attend live lectures and hear your professor’s voice; my brain actively tries to speed it up like in the videos I’m so accustomed to. Like excuse me, I swear you sounded like one of those squeaky singing chipmunks and now you’re speaking slower than I do when I try to come up with an excuse not to go out with my friends.

You will have more school notifications on your phone than any notifications from friends and family.

I wish somebody told me that a lot goes on at once and that to make sure you don’t miss a quiz, you have to make 2948382922 reminders even though it will take you five minutes to complete (but for some reason is worth a lot).

Online lectures are just expensive podcasts.

I always find myself playing a lecture in the background and not paying attention to it at all. If I skip a lecture, I panic and feel bad because I am making an active decision to miss out on important information––but if I play it in the background and don’t retain a single thing I’m like, “Yep. at least I tried.” I treat my online classes like podcasts; barely listening while walking around with headphones, making spaghetti and cleaning my room. You call it being distracted, I call it multitasking.

All jokes aside, my first month of online university has been mediocre. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s not even close to what I wanted it to feel like. I’m not really learning anything; I just feel like I’m procrastinating and meeting the same deadlines over and over. It’s the same cycle and routine I was accustomed to during high school–– this time, it’s just a lot more expensive. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, and to anyone and everyone else experiencing this, it’s okay to feel like university isn’t this life-changing, out-of-this-world experience… yet. The change will be slow, but you are far from being alone in this.

Shobiya is a first-year Commerce student at Ryerson University, minoring in English. She is a huge Harry Potter, and Studio Ghibli fan, and also enjoys spending time outdoors. She hopes to entertain, and connect with others using her articles.
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