Pros and Cons of Online College as an Awkward Person

collegeBy: Brad Manock

            I recently completed my college career. I chose an untraditional college career because it was cheaper and because it freed up time for other things. After four years of college courses completed in three and a half years (just bragging no big deal.) I have made some observations about the differences of online college with traditional college. I was in what is known as an “interwoven program” meaning that I did half in-person college courses at a technical college and half online courses so I think I have a good enough perspective to compare these two college formats.

 

Getting Set Up

            I chose to pursue a degree in “business management” and I was part of the first class of this new “interwoven program.” When I graduated high school I moved into my dad’s house which was very beneficial because of the fact that it was a few blocks away from the college that I would go to actual classes at. I was very excited about beginning college. I had a shitty high school career socially and I was eager to dive into this opportunity to restart my social life.

I had thoughts like “these people won’t be assholes like in high school.” Now my classmates were usually not assholes, but they were much older than I had anticipated. See, people who go the “traditional” college route go to a university and move into dorms. “Un-traditional” college student seems to be a code word for “unemployed adult.” All of my classmates were 30+ years of age and they all seemed to be victims of layoffs. There were also people who, at the time they graduated high school, a high school diploma was good enough. But then they were like “shit, I should have went to college” because of that rising education standard so they go back out of necessity.

 

Nope, Same Old Shit

I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful girls and fun times like I had always imagined college when I was in high school thinking to myself “someday things will get better.” So this seems extremely obvious now but, if you have an emotional expectation of sparking a social life, go to a traditional university. Now there were a few times where there would be cute girls at my technical college classes, but as in high school, they already had their own circle of friends and they never wanted to talk to the awkward guy.

 

Phoenix, You Ruin It For Everyone!

Online college in general has a very negative stigma. The University of Phoenix has pretty much re-written the definition of “online college” as meaning “fake degrees for dumb fucks and single moms.” So whenever I am asked about college I would always say that I am going for a four year degree in business management without mentioning the fact that half of my college career is made up of online courses. Occasionally they would ask additional questions to try to spark a conversation. At that point usually I would try to explain my situation further going into the fact that, even though it is a regular/legitimate four year degree, half of my classes are online and half are at a technical college. At that point the mood of the conversation shifts, there is a hint of pity on the face of the person I am talking to as if they are thinking “oh, it’s just online college.”

 

Online College Isn’t Real College

College requires a lot of hard work and a very large time commitment. However people sometimes glaze over that fact when they know that you are in online college. I often had family members who would add obligations to my plate throughout my college career and they would justify it by the fact that “you don’t have any classes that day.” It may have been true that I didn’t have any in-person classes that day but online college still requires a large time commitment. Now don’t get me wrong, online college is, by nature, far easier than in-person classes. But the people who are in charge of online classes have over corrected to the point that online classes are more time consuming than in-person classes. Remember “difficult” and “time-consuming” are very different when discussing college classes. At the beginning of each week I would always plan out which days I would write papers, which days I could do certain projects, and then the days I had in-person classes. I would plan out my schedule a week at a time and made the mistake of ignoring the fact that unexpected things pop up at the most inconvenient times. Whenever I would to try to explain to people “I have to do school work for online classes” they would retaliate with “well do it another time” or “you should have done it sooner.” But no matter what format your class is in, a large paper takes the same amount of time for research and writing. Often times I would have weeks where I would have to call-in to my part-time job because I was too time crunched to do anything except school work.

 

Deadlines in online college are usually “midnight on Sunday night” as opposed to an actual class period since work submissions for online college are, obviously, online. This has made for a few tense moments in my online college career. I cannot just have an all-night homework session if I am behind because the dead-line is in the middle of the night. If I had an assignment that was late, it was because of poor planning. There was also the fact that I work night-shifts so I am always awake at midnight anyways.

 

I liked the fact that I could do homework at any time I wanted. At a traditional university not all 24 of the hours are in play for planning purposes. This “anytime I feel like” factor for online college work also gave me a valid excuse for things that I didn’t want to do. Sometimes people would ask me to do things, usually family, and I could just say “sorry I have too much homework I can’t go.” Now when I said that I was telling the truth probably 80% of the time but the 20% of the time I was stretching the truth it was very useful for dodging stressful situations.

 

The Annoying Process

Right now I am in the middle of the graduation process, I am supposed to get a two-year degree from the technical college AND a four-year degree from the university that I did online classes at. However the problem with an interwoven program like this is that, nobody has any clue about anything ever. I ask a question about anything related to graduation and they will say something along the lines of “ask your adviser from the other school” there is no central authority to ask questions to. It is like when you are a kid and you ask a parent for something and they both say “ask the other one” and you are doomed to circle around in this “bureaucratic bullshit limbo.”

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