I recently completed my studies from University of Illinois Springfield, where I spent three years in their online English program. I actually made this decision before the COVID-19 Pandemic started, so I was already transitioned to online education before everyone had to learn how to use Google Classroom, Canvas, and Zoom in the mass panic that was March/April 2020.
I made this choice for a few reasons. Firstly, because I felt like many class periods during my in-person associates degree were a waste of time – we spent numerous classes just sitting there doing the homework or writing, which I could do online anyway. Save for creative writing workshops and the fact I had a theatre scholarship pre-cancer-damaging-my-vocal-cords, I didn’t feel like I got a lot out of going to campus. Secondly, there wasn’t really an option of not having a job because, while I am fortunate that my parents always have and always will help me the best that they can, I have to pay my way through college. Thanks to taking classes online, I was able to accept a full-time job at a local hospital, buy a house, and maintain the start of a fairly comfortable life while also being able to continue going to school for the job I want in the future.
I think online school has gotten a lot of flack since the world chaos plunged so many people into nontraditional education – but I was raised on nontraditional education. I was homeschooled my entire life – yes, preschool through senior year – prior to enrolling into a community college for my Associate of Arts. I came into the world of academia with an entire life of self-discipline in getting homework done (and doing it quick, because what homeschooler didn’t speed-run those timestable sheets so they could go outside or play Oregon Trail 5 or Reading Blaster in the early 2000s). While many people are criticizing online schooling, I am one of the people who has found it beneficial in numerous ways.
University of Illinois was a great choice for me. It had a great focus on digital technologies, which further benefitted from the online format, and the creative writing classes were productive and inspirational. I graduated Cum Laude, a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success, and got early provisional acceptance into the MFA program at my first choice grad school (Lindenwood University). I am so excited to move forward and take everything I learned with me as I continue my education and my career.
It’s crazy to look back at where I was six years ago, where I am now, and how hopeful I now am for the future. There were many times I had no idea what I was doing, thought about giving up writing, deleted an entire manuscript because it was 2am and I hated everything, no idea where I was going, learned to function on 4 hours of sleep, had no idea if I was making the right choice or completely off my rocker – in the end, I like my choices.
Congratulations to anyone else who graduated this spring, and good luck to anyone going forward to a career or continuing their education. 89 days until grad school for me!