November 26, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 31°F

BlogsWhat I Wish I Knew…

What is your experience post virtual learning?

Something that I never thought I would have to experience was an entire semester where I took my classes online. I had heard of asynchronous courses, but even then, it was something that I would never consider when it came to my education. I have one or two learning disabilities, and I honestly suck at paying attention and remembering assignments as is. When we went completely online, it was probably one of the worst semesters of my life.

This is a random fun fact about me but in my junior going into senior year of high school, my laptop broke. It was a refurbished MacBook and my mom and I had saved up for it since it was the norm at my private K-8. I am what you call “PC Stupid,” I have no idea how to use any device that isn’t an Apple product, (I know, I know, that’s super bad.) The reason I bring this up is because I spent a lot of time handwriting my notes and using the library computers. Try applying to colleges on an iPad, yikes. I had gotten so used to the idea of doing handwritten notes and not needing my computer so when I got to college, I used it less. There I was, halfway into my sophomore year, thinking I was killing the game. I had a pretty healthy balance of work and leisure, and I still read at least two books a month. 

Then came the dreaded COVID-19 semester that truly almost got me to quit college at one point. I was going through a lot of loss and grief, so being on camera for hours on end was already not my favorite. Now I have to add in the fact that EVERYTHING was online. The readings were online, the announcements, the homework, the class discussions … I was on my computer for so many hours I started getting major migraines. It sucked, like really bad. I truly thought in the beginning that online school wouldn’t be so bad. Then I remembered I haven’t been home from school since I was 13. Here’s the part of the blog where I throw in the fact that I went to boarding school (which I’m pretty sure I say every week.) Going to boarding school and having independence from my family at such a young age also added into the growing pains of working from home. I needed to separate my work life, school life and home life. My family didn’t really understand the fact that I was in school and would bother me a lot during lectures. I love them of course, but my mom calling me to do something in the middle of Art History didn’t really help me pay attention. Then of course, I had a job, because who needs self care? My job gave me insane hours on top of me being a full-time student and honestly I didn’t think that I could keep up. There’s something funny about the workaholic/always on your grind mentality, because no one tells you to slow down until you’ve already burnt yourself out. The COVID-19 pandemic taught me that I am too available for people and that the online-first mentality doesn’t work for everyone. I am trying to tone it down this semester and take a step back. If you ask my mom, she’d say it doesn’t seem like it, but I’ve truly tried to mellow out. In the work setting, it showed me what was necessary. On the other hand, the online semester into the hybrid semester showed me what was important for me. My mom told me if I needed to, I could drop out of school right now and take a gap year to get my head on straight. I never thought that this was something available to me, it’s not usually common in black and brown houses. School is important, getting good grades is important, but when the things around you are affecting you and you feel out of control, it’s important to know that YOU are also important. Putting yourself first is something that should always be prioritized no matter when you realize it’s never too late.

Frankie Walls can be reached at fwalls@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @super_ge3k