“You live an hour away from the campus, why are you studying online?” is a question that I’ve been asked several times since I switched to studying exclusively online during the beginning of my 10-month long programme.
Apart from the main reason (and the sole reason at that time) of wanting to protect my vulnerable parents from COVID-19, here are 5 other reasons why I don’t miss offline learning:
1. I can move at my own pace
The academic jump between under-graduation and post-graduation is significant as it is but with a two-year gap between the two, the jump is ten times more challenging and exhilarating. Whilst these feelings remain the same regardless of the mode of studying, what does change is the learning speed. A tremendous benefit of learning online for me so far has been being able to learn at my own pace. Instant online access to recorded lectures and seminars, lecture slides and reading materials, has meant that I am able to move at a desirable slower pace where I can go over a class as many as times as I want and whenever I want. For many other students, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate competency upfront and stand out during the class.
2. My total costs are much lower
Transport and food expenditure sum up a large chunk of the total costs for an individual, especially in London. Unfortunately, the tuition fee is not discounted for online students but fortunately, I’m able to eliminate commuting, random craving for junk food whilst studying in the library and unwanted socialising over dinner or drinks completely, saving a minimum of £100 per week.
3. It is easier to complete job applications and attend events
I don’t need to wait until I get home after a full day of classes to freshen up before giving a video interview. I’m able to commit to attending interviews and career events and needn’t to worry about them clashing with classes, as I can join and leave live online classes as required and/or watch the recorded lecture later. I don’t need to feel guilty about spending hours on searching for jobs as I can effectively utilise the three hours that I save by not commuting daily.
4. A more comfortable learning environment
Given the current circumstances where sanitisation is crucial, home has proved to be most comfortable and an ideal learning environment for me. The first two weeks as an offline student, I found myself spending a lot of time in sanitising every desk I used, washing my hands every time I touched anything that was exposed to the public and finding a somewhat isolated space to sit and study in. Also, the uneasiness of having constantly foggy glasses from wearing a mask and getting the angry stares from people due to my seasonal sneezes, made studying from home look much more appealing – in particular the quick and easy access to my bed and the fridge!
5. Real-life career preparation
I’ve noticed that online learning has been indirectly strengthening my communication and time management skills immensely. It has helped me to consistently keep in touch with my professors, course leaders and students via email and project management software, work remotely with fellow classmates to complete projects on a deadline, carry out discussions, raise and solve issues, and effectively manage my own time – all skills that I will be able to transfer directly in my future job.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, all the above reasons would be overlooked, and I would have definitely chosen offline learning. But considering the risks associated with being on campus, especially the commuting part, those are a few advantages I have identified so far of online learning that are worth considering.