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Welcome to Zoom University

It’s crazy to think that just three weeks ago most of us were romping around campus getting ready for spring break—business majors surfing, biology majors snapping shots of petri dishes and nursing majors at Liberty Station. We had no idea what lay ahead and that we wouldn’t return to campus following spring break.

Today, many of us have packed up and moved home, wherever that may be for you. All classes have become virtual for the remainder of the semester: a combination of Zoom conferences, Canvas discussions and hopefully not too much confusion. Some students, of course, are happier than others about this shift. Here’s my take on why online classes are actually good.

You can sleep in. Now, hear me out. Many people might automatically associate sleeping in with laziness; however, according to a study done by the University of Nevada, Reno, many college students learn more effectively later in the day. 

“The basic thrust is that the best times of day for learning for college-age students are later than standard class hours begin,” said Mariah Evans, associate professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-author of the study, said in an article for Neuroscience News. “Especially for freshmen and sophomores, we should be running more afternoon and evening classes as part of the standard curriculum,” according to Evans.

Online classes allow many students—depending on whether or not their teachers have decided to restructure their classes using Zoom—to sleep in and attend to homework on their own time. This encourages students to follow routines that work best for themselves, whether that be sleeping in, waking up early or staying up later to do school work. Plus, there could be worse things than attending class from the comfort of one’s own bed — Thank you, Zoom!

Secondly, it is important to remember PLNU serves a high number of commuters. I personally have been commuting to campus for the past year. With classes moved online, my 13-mile commute has been eliminated, saving me upward of $100 in gas each month.

According to a study done by Business Insider, adults in the U.S. can spend as low as $2,000 or as high as $5,000 annually on transportation, depending on the state. That’s two to five grand that students can rebudget to address rent, utilities, entertainment and whatever else broke college students spend their money on.

Many PLNU students, including senior writing major Sophia Markoski, have moved back into their parents’ houses. Markoski, prior to spring break, would drive home each weekend to spend time with her family. 

Because class has been moved online for the remainder of the semester, Markoski no longer has to make the 115 mile, or nearly two hour long drive, to San Dimas, a city in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County. “I also don’t have to pay for all my groceries and meals,” said Markoski. “I didn’t realize how much of a difference that would make, but it’s really significant.”

With classes now online, the closure of schools, parks and beaches, many of us spend a majority of our days indoors. Staying home allows free hours in the day to spend time with family or pick up new hobbies. Working on puzzles, going on the occasional neighborhood walk and doing a renovation of my bathroom are just a few ways I’ve personally bonded with my family since.

Online school also eliminates some of the many distractions students face on a college campus. An infographic posted on Wiley states that one of the top four most common distractions for college students is socialization. 

According to researchers at Gallup, the average person needs six hours of socializing per day to be considered “thriving.” College students, however, often engaged in even more socialization, thus leading to distraction and procrastination. (We’ve all been there!) 

Students are faced with fewer distractions to get their work done while practicing social distancing, leading to more study time and potentially even improved grades.

According to an article by Chegg, on-campus living has its pitfalls. In addition to being noisy, living at school can also mean “your home life is never totally separate from your school life.” This means that students are often unable to fully leave school and disassociate from the pressures of class. 

Living in close proximity to or with your best friends, at least for me personally, often led to a high level of procrastination in my freshman and sophomore year. When I moved back home to commute, I found myself a lot happier and able to balance my time more fully.

According to an article written by Lisa Nielsen on Huffpost, school itself is a huge distraction for students, as it becomes more about socializing and fitting in rather than learning. “Students shared that in online classes, many of the regular distractions from socializing […] to disruptive students no longer existed, and they could place their attention on learning.”

Online students, additionally, might feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, according to Nielsen. “When learning online, the playing field is leveled and opportunities are in place such as commenting on posts, videos and student work or participating in discussion forums.” This gives greater opportunities to students who are less prone to speak out during class.

Communication with professors, for students, also might be eased, according to Nielsen. “It is often difficult, if not impossible, for students to get the teacher’s attention in a traditional […] period,” said Nielsen. Some students, even if they gain the teacher’s attention, aren’t comfortable with the discussion being heard by the entire class. 

“Online environments typically have structures in place where students can easily send private instant messages or emails to their teacher,” said Nielsen. “Leaving them feeling much more supported by and connected to their teacher.”