High school was rough for me. Because I attended a charter school, I only had class twice a week, but I still dreaded going. “Participation” grades were the worst. I hated that I was expected to do class presentations, hectic group projects, and — the very worst thing — answer whatever question was asked when the teacher randomly called on me.
Fast forward to today. I have two courses to finish before I receive my bachelor’s degree from a university that offers distance learning. What this means is I’ve spent the past four years taking online college courses — and LOVING it.
Why? I have a feeling that it is mostly due to my introversion. Going the online route will not be the perfect fit for every introvert, but here are five reasons I think most introverts would love online courses as much as I did.
1. You can watch lectures in your pajamas. And this doesn’t only apply to lectures. I’m pretty sure I’ve done 90 percent of my coursework wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, snuggled up in bed. What’s better than watching a lecture wrapped in your favorite blanket, with your drink of choice in hand and music playing softly in the background? This is an introvert’s dream! (Or at least this introvert’s dream.)
If staying holed up in your bedroom isn’t appealing, the scenery can always change according to your preferences. Is the hip coffee shop down the street more your style? Get that latte, claim your little corner, and go! The possibilities are endless. And none of those possibilities involve being trapped in a crowded lecture hall against your will.
2. You can hide in your home for as long as you’d like and still feel like you’ve accomplished something. Let’s be honest here. Some days, the only reason I leave the house is because I want to feel like I’ve done something productive. The great thing about taking online courses is that you can do SO MANY THINGS without ever stepping out your front door. Research paper? Check. Textbook reading and quiz? Done. Participation in discussion boards? Finished. With online courses, there’s always something you can do that will make you feel productive. Gone are the days that staying home all day made me feel lazy and guilty.
3. It’s a (valid) excuse to skip unwanted social interactions. Sometimes, I get the dreaded text from a friend: “Come over, everyone is here!” Who is “everyone,” and why are they all together!? If it’s more than a few people, that is not my idea of a fun night. My go-to response? “Sorry, can’t, I have homework.” It works every time. (Sorry to any of my friends who I’ve said this to over the years… I love you all!).
The thing is, this excuse is completely true. Because my coursework is online, it’s all “homework” by default. I’ve made sure that my friends understand that college for me involves a whole lot of independent work. So I do have work to do, and though I could probably put it off another day, it’s always better to stay on top of it, right? Exactly, so just let me avoid social interaction and do my introverted thing. I’ll probably text you tomorrow.
4. Most of your grade comes from writing. For some of us introverts, writing is a lifeline. It allows us to better articulate what we are trying to say, with the ability to review and edit, over and over, until we get our words just right. When it comes to college coursework, we may not be trying to produce a product that is personal, but that does not mean it shouldn’t be authentic. Writing research papers, short essays, and discussion board posts have allowed me to authentically display the knowledge I have gained in the course.
The other part of writing for every assignment is that there are no in-class discussions. No draining small talk, no face-to-face meetings with the professor, no uncomfortable struggle to sit with the right people (you know, the ones who talk enough so you don’t have to, yet don’t talk too much). Online classes allow you to participate in discussions with a screen protecting you from the uncomfortable world of verbal communication. For the introvert, it’s fantastic.
5. You can always press pause. This may not be applicable to all introverts, but personally, I find it difficult to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. I just think so much about so many things that I get distracted. When all the lectures are video or audio recordings, there are magical buttons that stop and/or rewind the professor. Isn’t this technology wonderful? This allows me to press pause, google a deep philosophical question (or New Girl gifs), and return to the lecture without missing any important information.
Technology is changing the way the world works, and we introverts are able to use this to our benefit. Taking college classes online has allowed me to focus on learning in an environment that is comfortable for me. Online courses may not be for everyone, but they work for me, and they just might work for you too.
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