Rachel Huston – Agonizing Days

I remember the “agonizing” days of middle school - irrelevant drama, brightly colored hair, egos too big for our bodies, and the lack of a drive to get up at seven in the morning to attend school. For some, they never grow out of the feeling of anguish every morning when awaking to attend school. As they lie motionless in their beds under the covers decorated with morning sunlight they ask, “Why do we even have education?” as if they have lost all value associated with the education system. Non-traditional students, such as single parents and young independents, cannot always find the time or ability to become a traditional student in a traditional school system.Traditional schooling has its place and time, and for some, that is just not the answer - online schooling is.

Attending a laptop school for my high school years opened up my eyes some to what online schooling is like. Now that I am attending online classes from a local community college on the side, I understand the doors online education has built and opened for students of all kinds.

In my pre-teen years I found it to be an honest struggle to find a reason to attend class. I’ve since moved past that and, due to my CTE and elective classes, find myself enjoying school more than I ever expected. However, many of the students who sit in my class and glaze over during lectures feel differently. The physical act of sitting in a classroom and the emotional strain of interacting, with not only fellow peers but also teachers, can be grueling to some, and they should not be penalized with poor grades because they cannot learn in the environment they are put in. This is where online education steps in. The biggest advantage to online schooling that comes to mind almost immediately is the ability to study in a coffee shop, in a park, or on a couch. Students are able to work in a place where they feel safe and comfortable and can actually learn - which is the whole point of school. After sitting in the infamous plastic chairs that populate every school for six hours, I find it to be relieving to be able to curl up on the couch and learn new French phrases via my online course. After a regrettable experience in a classroom setting for a foreign language class, I can confidently say that I learn this subject better outside of a room crammed with anywhere from twenty to thirty sweaty teenagers. For those who feel the same, online school is their savior. No student should have to deal with low marks on their report cards because they simply cannot grasp the concepts because they learn differently than most students do. While grades are vital to the success of a student, mental health is even more crucial. Some students, myself being one at one point, have to deal with an inner battle of social anxiety and related conditions. Being around possibly thirty other people at a time in a room and being asked to conduct activities one does not understand can be very overwhelming to someone who deals with a mental illness that impedes or negatively impacts them. Online schooling would solve this because the student can be as isolated - or not isolated - as they want while they participate in class. Schools that offer online courses are paving the way for a brighter future for not only the students who struggle with sitting in a classroom or interacting with others, but for the unconventional students as well.

It is 2016 and education is more accessible than it has ever been. Now, for example, those part of Generation X who missed the boat on higher education have the ability to get their dream degree while balancing their family and life they’ve built since high school. Many people who are not the baby-faced, fresh out of high school, college bound stereotype can now attend class with online schooling. Most unconventional students have a full-time job filling up their schedule - so there’s not always a lot of room to try and fit in traditional classes where they have to drive to a campus that might not be close to them. But, online courses change that. Now the single mom can study from her kitchen, and the dad of six can study during half time at his son’s football game.

Overall, online schooling gives the untraditional the luxury of convenience. We live in the age of convenience - life has never been easier with all the technology that surrounds us. We need to take advantage of that and use it to help those with quite possibly the most important thing in their life: education.

Rachel Huston - Agonizing Days