Online vs In-person School: Reflections from a Pandemic Graduate

by Toni De Guzman

Two years ago, we experienced a major shift from attending school in person to trying to graduate online. I was in my last years of high school, hoping to graduate in the summer of 2021. 

The pandemic worsened, and reality sunk in; will I still be able to see my friends before we all graduate, part ways, and never see each other? What about the high school experience? Will I still have a graduation? What seemed like a fun two-month transition to online school, kept getting extended. 

Online learning promotes an easier balance with work and school. The luxury of having time to sleep in (thanks to no commuting) and take my classes in bed or while making breakfast is the only thing I miss. Apart from the bonus of a more leisurely timeframe, there was no “high school experience,” only tired eyes and consecutive meetings. I never did get that grad. 

When you think of online school it probably reminds you of endless zoom calls, often leaving you feeling emotionally drained. The next day comes, and you are required to exercise more self-motivation to get assignments done and attend virtual classes. 

It is hard to get to know others through video calls, especially because they are monitored. There was no collaborative learning environment and spirit. Students who may be hands-on or visual learners suffered. Interaction was limited, often non-existent. 

Judging from my recent experience of graduating from high school during a pandemic, I feel like I missed a traditional rite of passage from teenager to adult. Like my cohort, there was no chance to hang out with friends, participate in spirit week, say “thank you” to instructors, and take time for granted. How this will affect us moving forward with our lives remains to be seen. We lost a lost a lot of teen culture and socialization. 

Toni De Guzman

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