Preparing for College in the Virtual Classroom

For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to plan ahead. The idea of the unknown, regardless of its capacity, has always terrified me. I constantly think about the future. And, by that I mean, I’ve been planning for college since I was ten. I used to spend a lot of time fantasizing about being a college student. Though the idea seemed really far off at that time, it also excited me beyond belief. It still does, but it isn’t so far away now.

When I started tenth grade, I began to realize how close college actually was, and it sent me into a week-long panic. It wasn’t a fantasy anymore. It was going to come true, sooner rather than later. It was at that moment, that I realized how unprepared I truly was. I didn’t know the first thing about life after high school. Luckily, I had just begun to take my classes online.

“Since beginning to take my classes virtually, I’ve made the world my classroom.”

You might wonder, how do online classes have anything to do with this? I thought the same thing at first, too. That’s when my mom told me about how college and virtual school are actually pretty similar. According to her, taking my lessons on my computer would help me prepare for what college would be like. And, as much as I like to disagree with my mother, she had a pretty good point.

See, one of the beauties of virtual learning is the flexible schedule. The ability to pick and choose when you get to work on your assignments can be really beneficial for some people, myself included. While college is a bit stricter than this, the layout of your day is more relaxed. You might not necessarily have to wake up early in the morning for class. It’s possible that you could have all of your classes in the evening. This is a big difference from traditional school. Thankfully, I’m a bit more experienced with this concept now.

When you’re in college, your classes are conducted very differently from how they are in high school. Your teacher isn’t going to chase after you to turn an assignment in, a lot of your communication will be over the computer, and it’s your responsibility to remember when work is due. This can be similar to how my work routine is structured. My instructors care about my success, but they also care about my accountability and self-direction. Honestly, this was hard to get used to at first.

In all of my time in a traditional school environment, I had never encountered a teacher that wouldn’t remind me when something was due. I was expecting the same thing when I started taking lessons online. The reality put a bigger emphasis on my personal accountability to pace my work appropriately. I’m glad that I learned this skill, though. It’s important to be able to take accountability for your own work, that includes due dates.

From what I know, a lot of college work takes place outside of the classroom. You could get an assignment done in your bedroom, or a cozy café. (I’d opt for the latter.) This is another thing that university has in common with online learning. Since beginning to take my classes virtually, I’ve made the world my classroom. Instead of being confined to a desk, I can bring my computer anywhere.

It’s awesome to have freedoms like this, but it can be an adjustment, too. While doing homework in public is fun, it can also be distracting. You have to push through the chaos of the world surrounding you. This is something that I’ll have to do a lot in college. It wasn’t easy to get the hang of in the beginning, and I wouldn’t even say that I’ve mastered it now. I’m farther along than I was, though. I’m really grateful to have this tool in my back pocket for when I leave home.

Everybody’s college experience will be different. I’ve found, though, that the experience of taking classes virtually has made me feel more confident in my ability to survive it. I’ve picked up tips along the way that I wouldn’t have in a traditional school setting. There’s no way to be completely prepared, but online school has given me a definite head start.

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