When I talk to my friends about being in graduate school, a large number of them ask if I have any online classes or if I have to physically be on campus. When I tell them that all classes are on campus, they give me the “oh, poor you” look. I think that is because I live in New Kent, not Williamsburg. Usually, I just say that it’s not that bad and move on. But when I think about classes on campus versus online there are several reasons I don’t mind commuting.
The first is that commuting gives me a good 35 minutes to gather my thoughts, either before or after class. I also get to listen to NPR. To put this in perspective, for the last five years I have been driving back and forth to Mechanicsville (a 25 minute commute) with three very talkative children in the car! The drive to Williamsburg is a time to center myself.
The second thing I love about being on campus for classes is the human interaction. I love being able to engage in face-to-face conversation with classmates, professors and colleagues. It also helps me understand the content better and get immediate feedback. I learn from students in other programs as well and would not have that kind of access without being here in person.
The third and most financially important is the fact that I have an assistantship that requires me to be in the Office of Academic Programs for 20 hours a week. The opportunity to work in exchange for my tuition made the whole “return to school” decision work for my family and me. I have also learned a lot about how the School of Education operates and know who to contact for any questions I may have regarding my program of studies.
I would most certainly not have the same experience if all, or even part, of my learning were online. I can also say, with confidence, that I would not enjoy it nearly as much!