After spending a little over a month in online classes, I have learned a lot about how much time in the day I actually need to dedicate to my education. The first week, I had to fight the urge to mentally check out and enter summer vacation mode. Once I accepted the fact classes would be online for the foreseeable future, I found that remote learning was just as (if not more) manageable than in-person classes.
Not to say I prefer online classes. I don’t. I never thought I’d miss walking a 15-minute distance in eight minutes to make my 10 a.m. discussion after my 9 a.m. lecture on Thursday mornings, but now having anything to walk to is a luxury. And I find some aspects of being online just plain awkward, like in smaller discussions when your professor asks a question to the group and everyone stares at each other (or worse, at a blank screen because no one feels like sharing their camera), waiting to see who will crack first.
But back to the good part – online classes are doable. (Although truthfully, I don’t think the last few weeks are an accurate representation of what fully online college is like, especially since remote university programs are structured to be online.) I was fortunate that pretty much all of the courses I’m taking transitioned online with little difficulty.
Between my five classes, four became online courses while one became a self-study course, where students are responsible for watching lectures and turning in assignments on our own time. The total coursework in my self-study courses is the same, but the flexibility to turn in assignments whenever takes off a lot of stress. Another one of my professors also uploaded pre-recorded lectures but maintained fixed due dates for assignments. Still, being able to watch lectures at my leisure has freed up a lot of time during my day that I can use for catching up on sleep and homework.
My other classes meet at the same time and have similar deadlines, with some exceptions. Many professors truncated the syllabus to ensure we get through the most important course material, have been generally more flexible with due dates, and altered assignments to accommodate the current circumstances. All of them have made themselves accessible via video conferencing or email and most have also expressed their willingness to talk with students about the current situation on top of course material.
Despite the huge transition to online classes, the actual workload is pretty comparable to when we met in person. The classes themselves are a little more forgiving in the aforementioned aspects. I also have more time in my day because I don’t have to walk anywhere or attend two of my lectures at set times. So, in my case, I find online classes easier to manage. Others in different circumstances or taking different courses might have come to different conclusions.
Either way, at least for now, being online is a shared reality. If you are able to, find a flow that works for you – maybe break up classes with walks, set study hours, or establish one task for each day. But also, know when it’s time to pack up. The work will be there tomorrow – that hasn’t changed.