In our generation, if you aren't attending college on campus, people tend to think you've lost it a little. Since taking classes online for more than two years, feel like I've heard nearly every negative and pressuring comment out there. It usually goes like this:
Human: "Where are you going to college?"
Me: "I'm actually taking online classes through a university in California (now Texas)."
Human: "Oh, wow! But you're not going to get the full college experience then."
I can't tell you how many times this type of conversation has happened. For some reason, people are so afraid I'm going to miss out. However, there are many positive aspects people don't think of or aren't aware of. I promise we aren't missing out!
1. You don't have to leave your house to attend class.
As long as you have your computer with you, you can access your classes and assignments anywhere. In the past, I have worked while on my couch, at my desk in my room and at my kitchen table. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to be outside on a hammock or my deck. If I want to get ready and study at a coffee shop or library, then I can. There is no pressure if I don't want to that day, though. No comfort is equal to the comfort of being home, especially for an introvert like me.
2. You have a flexible, relaxed schedule.
You can plan around your everyday life, instead of planning around your college schedule. I can study where and when works best for me. You can travel, work full time and pursue other opportunities and interests. I can (and have) traveled during the semester to visit family and friends in different states. Going to school online has personally allowed me to live at home, hang out with friends whenever I want, write for Odyssey, be trained by a local counselor, be a tutor and nanny.
3. You have to be dedicated to staying on top of your work.
I don't know about you, but learning the way you choose, knowing all your assignments upfront, and setting your own hours outweighs having to be more disciplined. Discipline is a necessary trait to learn in life, specifically while you're young. So why not learn it now? Due dates and staying committed to being on track (even ahead) keeps me focused and prepared. It increases your free time instead of decreasing it.
I find myself being more productive when I get to choose when it's best for me. All the information is at my fingertips and every week I have everything I need to do laid out. On Sunday night, I get out my planner, binder and syllabi to write important things down to set myself up for success.
4. You can still have a social life
Just like college is a choice, being social (wherever you're at) is a choice too. I have met some of my best friends at camp, church and even meeting their friend group at their college!
You can join a society on campus if you live nearby, participate in your community, get plugged into church groups, book clubs, work, and meet friends of friends. Everyone gets to make choices socially, academically and spiritually. What you choose to say "yes" or "no" to shapes you into who you become and where you will end up. Each person needs to choose what is best for them, not someone else.
5. You aren't less of a student because you aren't on campus
You do similar (or even the same) work that others are doing. You can talk to your professors if necessary and get help solving what you don't understand. You are still being stretched, trying to turn work in on time and maybe even staying ahead of the game so you can graduate early!
The halls, parties, and even students aren't the only things that define your college experience. Taking classes and furthering your education plays as much of a role as anything else. Your college experience is what you make of it, not what others are doing or pressure you to do. Whatever your college years include or don't include, remember to soak up these exciting times!