"Subject: A Message from Chancellor Subbaswamy about Fall Operating Plans"
April 22, 2021
Dear Campus Community,
As we prepare for a return to normal campus operations for the next academic year, which will include face-to-face instruction, full residence halls, and a complement of student events and activities … Our efforts will focus on offering students a full residential, in-person college experience in September safely…”
To say I received the above email with complete relief would be a lie. Unpopular opinion: online classes weren’t all that bad. Of course, I have my criticisms and complaints about online school, but when I look back at these past two semesters, I also see the ways in which online classes were advantageous. I could maybe, maybe, even go as far as to say that they were preferable to in-person classes. Here’s why.
- Saving Time
By having the luxury to attend class and club meetings from my bedroom, I saved so much time by not having to hike across campus from building to building. I avoided the following headaches each morning:
“So, class starts at 8 but I want to get there at 7:55ish to get a seat. Then, it's a 15 minute walk, but I also want to stop at Roots for Grab-and-Go, so that’s another 10 minutes to be safe in case there’s a line. That brings me to 7:30. It’ll take me about 15 minutes to get ready and out of the dorm (if I’m quick), so I need to wake up by 7:15. That means I’ll set my first alarm for 7 so I am awake by then.”
Instead, I could just wake up 5 or 10 minutes before class and gain an extra 50 minutes of sleep. So much simpler. Beyond getting to sleep in, I could do work in-between my classes right up until the next one started without wasting time walking to another building. Plus, I didn’t have to stress about getting there early enough to get a good seat (or to account for the time I would inevitably lose getting lost in the Morrill buildings).
- Recorded Lectures
On a more academic note, I truly loved recorded lectures. During in-person lectures, I often felt so antsy and distracted that it took all of my effort to just sit through the rest of the lecture, never mind retain the information. During online classes, I could watch the material at my own leisure when I felt I had the focus. The greatest benefit of it all: REWIND. When my attention would wander, or I couldn’t write down the slide fast enough, I could simply pause and go back. In this way, I feel that I got more out of every lecture than I did in person.
- Review Sessions
To combine the previous two points, I was able to attend more review sessions, which I personally found extremely valuable. If I had no conflicting commitments, then I was more likely to attend because I did not have to make the half-hour round trip walk at 8:30 at night. If I was unable to attend live, I did not miss out on the information because I could watch it later!
The most obvious advantage of remote classes is the freedom: freedom to do work when I wanted and where I wanted. I have experienced so many opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable if I had the strict schedule of in-person schooling. Last semester I moved to Colorado because I had the freedom to take classes from wherever I wanted to. This semester I get to live with my friends in an amazing Airbnb while (safely) getting to visit family and friends.
Despite all of these reasons, however, I can safely say that I hope we never have online classes again. I will give up the extra time, recorded lectures, and freedom to be back in the irreplaceable atmosphere that is a college campus. I’ll even take back the awkwardness of introducing yourself to the person next to you in lecture if it means meeting new people again. There are just some aspects of schooling that online classes can only pretend to replicate. Dear online classes, I will miss you, but I am happy to let you go.