Expectations vs. Reality of my Online Learning Experience

With the semester beginning to wind down and the exams starting to kick up, I figured now was a good time as any to find out where I stood so far. You see, I had already tried to be an online student - twice, and I recoil thinking about my experience every time. I knew what I was capable of handling. Learning math, science, or any topic was riddled with more obstacles than I experienced from a traditional classroom setting. To say I was full of doubts is an understatement, but I was proven wrong on my expectations for this semester on more than one occasion. Here is what I found out.


Expectation 1: I would become much better at wrangling my procrastination crutch.

[Insert maniacal laughter here]. Like all fruitless hopes, this one had no chance of survival, and it withered pretty quickly. My delusions were fueled by [an admirable] hope in my self-reliance. I wanted to believe that since I could take classes in the luxury of my home, I would avoid outside distractions and confine myself to my studies. Who knew my self-control would be so fleeting because once I logged out of a class, I took it upon myself to take a very long, much deserved, break bringing my saved Netflix shows. I do not regret this. 


Expectation 2: The kind of professors that would crawl out of the depths of my nightmares.

Most of us had no clue what we were in for once the semester began, and I'll be honest, I entered it a bit of a pessimist. A cornerstone of our college experience is being equipped with "professor horror stories," whether they are our own or not. I had the preemptive resignation that at least one of my professors would end up harsh and unyielding to the semester's strange circumstances. However, I was surprised to find that none of my fears were to come true. The root of my professors' flexibility is possibly due to the awkwardness technology presented to us. It gave us all the common ground we needed to make the semester work out. At least, I think it did, and I'm actually reading too much into it. In any case, I am grateful that they were as accommodating and accessible as they were. 


Expectation 3: I could stay organized 

Before online courses, I was one of those students who very rarely used a planner. At most, I would write down dates for projects and exams. More often than not, I would rely on sticky notes for listing the day's tasks and tossing it out once I was done for the day. However, when having to shift my entire learning environment, I had to rely on not one, not two, but three planners. I know that sounds like overkill, but I blame my defective sense of time on my obsessive need for a meticulously planned out day. I can now say I am a planner master, and I may share my knowledge with the world one day.


Expectation 4: I would get very little sleep this semester

This expectation is not an unreasonable one. Since middle school, I struggled to get 8 hours of sleep, and I admit I didn't try my best to fix the issue. I suppose I resigned myself to a misguided notion that I was preparing for the many sleepless nights in vet school. However, over the summer, I was surprised to finally find out that many med/vet students still regularly get their needed sleep. In learning this, I resolved to try and work my way up to 8 hours of sleep. I was a bit apprehensive of my commitment to this resolution. However, I am proud to say that I accomplished it! Most days of the week (not counting exam nights), I manage to get a refreshing 8 hours of sleep, and it has been glorious!


Expectation 5: I would never have time to do what I need to do for myself

I tend to throw myself entirely into my studies, neglecting all of my other needs. I didn't think the case would change for this semester, but it turns out that over planning and getting enough sleep have upsides: I can squeeze in my hobbies during my school week! Being able to make time for my hobbies played a big part in keeping me from burning out this semester. 


Though there were many downsides to taking classes online, it was surprising to find plenty of upsides and unexpected accomplishments while becoming an online student. It was still possible to grow and be better-rounded!