Our Virtual Realities 


Person holding paper and laptop for virutal learning
Person holding paper and laptop for virutal learning

As the COVID 19 pandemic becomes a distant memory for some, many are still living in a world that incorporates safety measures that radically forced many of us to reevaluate our day-to-day lives.  

The way we fundamentally navigated our daily lives was brought into question and reconfigured – for better or for worse. As more companies ask employees to return to work and as more schools re-introduce in person classes – will you be opting to come in? This is the question that will shift people’s priorities and lives in a way that was otherwise unforeseen. 

There are many reasons for students to opt-in and take their classes at home.  Being a student or worker online provides us with flexibility; something that professional or public settings often restrict.  

Students have more autonomy over their schedules and have more control over their work-life balance when given the opportunity to be in their own space. This flexibility in conjunction with more privacy promotes a better work life balance. 

Online courses offer flexibility in terms of when and where you study, accommodating various schedules. Self-Paced Learning environments also allow students to progress at their own speed.  One factor that I personally prefer is the absence of a commute. I am able to curate a perfect study space for myself that is comfortable and tailored to my preferences, which in turn enhances my productivity. In addition, I am able to manage my distractions in my environment.  

With the removal of the commute comes the additional cost savings provided by the reduced commute, and when money is time, both are saved. Online courses often cost less than traditional in-person classes, especially when considering commuting and housing expenses. The lack of commute also saves time and money by avoiding daily commutes to the campus. Transferring more academic content online allows access to broader resources as well, having online access grants a wider range of online resources and materials at the student’s convenience.

On the other hand, not all students have the privilege of considering their homes a safe space, or an environment that is conducive to achieving their goals. Some students struggled throughout COVID, a time when many were suffering in silence, experiencing domestic disruptions or facing feelings of isolation.  Being a student from home can be lonely and may limit your social interactions. This can result in you choosing to withdraw from communal energy that may be present on campus.  

The overall lack of face-to-face interaction makes building relationships more difficult and effective communication with colleagues can be hindered, as video chats do not foster the same organic opportunities for networking.  

Other students may be challenged by blurred boundaries, not knowing how to separate academia from their personal life when their study space is at home.  

Technical problems were wide-spread throughout the pandemic and beyond. Unreliable internet access and particular technology requirements may sometimes prevent students from fully engaging in real-time material. For me, I found the most frustrating aspect to be the limited hands-on experience that I was able to acquire throughout the pandemic. Certain subjects such as sciences or certain arts that require labs or crafted projects were challenging to learn online due to the absence of hands-on experiences and the subsequent removal of the craftsmanship or scientific integrity. 

The choice between being an online student and being on-campus depends on your individual preferences, circumstances, and goals. The goals we wish to obtain will ultimately determine which option aligns better with your lifestyle and objectives. being a student wields a double edged sword that requires the individual to apply it wisely as a tool to strengthen their lives. 

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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.