Online school ‘put the magic back into learning’


Anne Greene

Illustration of Greene relaxing in-between her online classes.

I am a bad student. Or at least I used to be. I never did homework. I lived life floundering about in the low 70s, received regular feedback that I did not apply myself and yes, even failed a class or two. 

I am a proud, former attendee of credit recovery summer school. What started as just a bad year and a teacher I didn’t jive with in elementary school grew with me. My problem with school – that I didn’t know was a problem – attended every year by my side, some years rearing its head more than others. It wasn’t until the pandemic set in and the immersive bubble of school popped that I could really see my flawed and unhappy relationship with school. 

School was a microcosm. And I was fully immersed for years. In normal times, summer occurs and your routine changes. But, that is only the interim. There is the certainty of the new academic year awaiting on the other side. I was never able to achieve a complete divorce from school. Then, the pandemic hit. School as we knew it—canceled. 

You wouldn’t be able to tell from my spring report card, but the switch to online school changed me as a student for the better. Before the pandemic, I was engulfed but uninvested. COVID-19 had provided me with a real break, removed me from the structure of a typical academic year. The pandemic had finally given me the ability to heal my relationship with education. 

I didn’t know that online school was truly an option before, and in some regard, I still believe that it was not. My perception of online school before was mainly from the Nickelodeon commercials that my parents scoffed at. I thought that online school was for spoiled rich kids who simply couldn’t attend school all day like an unwashed peasant, or weirdos whose families were way too into board games. There was no way that I could have convinced my parents it was a viable choice until it was forced upon us.  We learned that in the face of change, life does what it does. It goes on.

Do not be fooled. There are still moments in online school that make me feel overwhelmed and confused. I dislike knowing what the kid who used to sit behind me in math class’ bedspread looks like (it’s navy blue). 

Being in close quarters can also be annoying. My father asks me if I’m done with school yet at regular 10-minute intervals like a child on a road trip asking, “Are we there yet?”. Sometimes, trying to keep up with teacher announcements makes me feel like all the important information is being shared in a secret second class group chat that I was excluded from for being annoying or unfunny. But now that I’m home, I don’t feel like I’m being assaulted by the all-day, every-day nature of traditional school. 

I relish composing and sending emails. Email is my favorite form of communication. Being able to reach out and ask for help knowing that most, if not all, of the interaction required of me will happen in a text box makes it much easier. I feel as though school and my non-academic-passions lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling, poking my nose around in online parenting forums I do not belong in or my new favorite, screaming while driving to Lowes and then loitering in the lumber department – work together. Online school has allowed me to create a life and routine that feels manageable, enjoyable and flexible.

I feel passionate and excited to work on assignments and take notes. Online school put the magic back into learning for me. If there’s anything I want people to know, it is that education has value and learning has worth, even if it does not follow a traditional path. 

There should be no shame in community college, failing a class or not being interested in traditional learning at all. It is okay to have a journey that is not linear, to take more time, to realize your passion later in life. The best reason to do anything is because you enjoy it, school and learning included.