Learning online detracts from the college experience

Learning online detracts from the college experience

Elizabeth Kaiser graphic

I’m not the first person to say this, and I doubt I’ll be the last: I highly dislike online college. Now, don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate that in these uncertain circumstances I’m still able to get my college degree and not be set back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But admittedly, half of the reason I enjoy college is because of the on-campus experiences, none of which can function a fraction of the way they used to before quarantine.
I’m a part of InterVarsity, which is a Christian organization on campus. We regularly have Bible studies, worship nights, large-group sessions and we attend church together. I’ve missed having those experiences in person, and it’s sad to think that I won’t have the chance to say goodbye to some of the people I’ve grown close to over the years who are graduating this semester.
I’m also the president of my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and I absolutely love it. I was very excited to have the opportunity to lead my sorority and work hard on improving sisterhood and scholarship. However, without having in-person meetings, sisterhood events, socials, study sessions with sisters or any of the rest of the other fun events and activities we do as a chapter, it feels like I’ve lost that chance. I’ve been doing my best to continue to lead my chapter online, but it’s not the same. And, I fear that I’ll lose my chance entirely if we move to online classes next semester, too. Gamma Phi Beta has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life, and I want to hold on to my collegiate experience for as long as possible.
I understand that while clubs and extracurriculars aren’t the main point of college and aren’t technically necessary, there are so many things that are necessary that students are still missing out on. All the money that students pay for tuition goes towards much more than classes and instruction. It pays for access to the Pioneer Activity Center, the library, Student Counseling Services, Academic Support Programs, tutoring, CPR events and so much more. Why are these things included in our tuition? Because they’re highly important and nearly essential to succeeding in college. Having online classes means I don’t have resources like quiet study rooms in the library, drop-in tutoring hours for classes I’m struggling in, a counselor to go to if I’ve been having a rough mental health week or a fun CPR event to relieve stress and hang out with my friends. All of these things are things I’ve been missing dearly while stuck in quarantine. I never realized how much I appreciated all the resources that UW-Platteville has to offer until they were taken away.
I understand the importance of moving this semester online. I of course want myself and all other students and faculty to stay safe and healthy while we figure out what will happen with this pandemic, but my heart aches at the thought of losing out on my college years if we continue to have classes online. I’ve even debated dropping out of school and re-enrolling once in-person classes resume and campus reopens. I can’t imagine how seniors are feeling, having their final semester taken away from them. They didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to the amazing school, campus, professors, classmates and friends they’ve come to know these past four years.
I’m hoping for the chance to come back to campus for my senior year in the fall instead of doing college virtually. Either that, or I want a rewind button that will let me go back to fully appreciate the things I took for granted last semester and the years before that, like being able to leave my house and walk to campus for my lectures and labs. I want to go back and tell all my professors that I really appreciate all their hard work because, as I’ve now realized from being in quarantine, they truly have such a large impact on my success as a student.
All I’ll say is this: I really, really, really hope classes resume in-person next semester, because I miss my friends, I miss my sorority, I miss my professors and I miss simply walking across campus. But, until we all return and campus reopens, I’ll keep quarantining myself and doing my best in online school.