Top 10 Things Students Will Miss About Online School

Female student listening webinar online flat vector illustration. Cartoon people at training, video conference or lecture. Computer study and education concept

With vaccine rollouts increasing across the country and promising advancements in PPE, as well as other safety measures emerging, it appears as though the COVID-19 pandemic is finally starting to die down. 

The expected return to in-person activity has many people excited. However, there are a few things about virtual life that just won’t be the same once we’re back on campus. To pay tribute to *the best of the best* of online learning, here’s what students will miss the most: 

Here are the top 10 things UW students will miss about online school: 

  1. 15-second commutes

    Pretty much anyone who’s taken an 8:30 a.m. lecture knows the struggle of getting to class on time. You’d fallen asleep late. The next morning, you’d wake up to the shrill ring of your alarm clock, blaring in your ears. With heavy eyelids, you’d scramble to collect your belongings and rush out of your room, a trail of discarded items scattered behind you. At the bus stop, the other students look more dead than alive.

You’d squeeze onto the already crammed bus and find yourself positioned between someone inhaling an egg salad sandwich for breakfast and someone who’d definitely skipped their shower for several days in a row. 

The last leg of the trek would involve a half-walk-half-sprint to your lecture, only for you to show up late and be relegated to the front row, where your professor’s untrimmed nose hairs were in plain view.

Thanks to online school, students don’t have to worry about any of that. Heck, you can wake up at 8:29 a.m., sign in to Zoom and roll back into bed, drifting off to the prof’s monotonous explanation of Gauss Law intertwined with accidental unmuted mic interruptions and ongoing glitches due to poor internet connection.  

2. Pyjama haute couture

Online school has brought forth a revolution in the fashion industry. No, it’s not a new version of preppy chic, with private school uniform sweater vests and clean white button ups. This year, pyjama haute couture has been all the rage. Students are attending class in clothing that was clearly designed for sleep.

Popular Hair and makeup styles have followed the pyjama revolution closely. Bed head is very much in right now. For those days when you have to look more presentable, many gen-z oriented fashion brands have begun to sell matching dress-shirt and sweatpant sets. Of course, matching isn’t necessary, but make sure to have something on the bottom to avoid yet another pantsless Zoom scandal.

3. YouTuber mukbang moments

When classes were in-person, students might have felt shy about unwrapping a thicc and potent burrito in the middle of class. Now with the camera on and the mic off, students can show off their eating skills to their classmates and professor and pretend they are taste-testing food for their channel subscribers. If you’re really feeling gutsy, turn your mic on and pretend it’s ASMR as you use your tongue to remove the bits of chicken stuck between your teeth.  

If you’ve ever had back-to-back classes through lunch or had to rush from school to work (or vice versa) you might’ve tried eating in class. While a small snack is usually okay, eating a full meal in a lecture is messy, awkward, and uncomfortable. With online school, you no longer need to schedule your lunch into a 10-minute break between classes or risk annoying your classmates with your meal. 

4. Keeping your camera and mic off the entire time until the end to say ‘bye’ 

While engaged classmates and enthusiastic professors promoted a strong learning environment, there’s no doubt about the fact that speaking in class – even just to your neighbours – is intimidating. It’s so much worse when your prof thinks it’s funny to insult your lack of advanced knowledge on the obscure subject of their PhD.

With remote learning, there’s no need to be seen or heard to participate. Just ask your questions through the Zoom chat function, or, better yet, use the time to catch-up on the hundreds of discussion posts you’ve been assigned throughout the term. 

Sure, Zoom learning can feel like a bleak void of poorly communicated concepts and painstakingly dull chat discussions. But the upside is that you don’t need to say anything, or even show your face, to seem like you were participating throughout the class. Just remember to turn your mic back on to say “bye” at the end of the lecture. 

5. Group projects, but with different time zones 

Students already loved group projects pre-pandemic, especially when one of the members wouldn’t even show up to class but you still get one grade as a collective body.

Now with online school, some students aren’t even in the same time zone and you can be grouped up with someone on the other side of the world. You send them an email at 2 p.m. ET and they won’t get back to you until 3:34 a.m. ET the next day. This is a great way to keep you on your toes and leave you guessing whether or not you’ll actually finish the group assignment by the due date.

6. Zoom backgrounds 

Need to hide the fact that you haven’t cleaned your room since you moved home from school in March 2020? Worried that someone from your physics class will see your Edward Cullen shrine near your closet? Or are you on vacation in the Caribbean and don’t want anyone knowing? Have no fear — Zoom backgrounds are here! 

You can cover up any secrets and make it look like you’re a totally normal and complying human being by using that handy green screen effect that gives you Mac photobooth vibes.

7. Zoom bombs 

Although it hasn’t happened as often since Zoom put preventative measures in place, the surprise guest lecturers were always the best part of online school. Some people had celebrities join their calls, others had TikTokers looking for clout, while some even had the mysterious Mr. Smelmapans come in and scream into the mic. You can have a kid stand up and scream in a lecture hall, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

8. Spending time on technical difficulties 

Even if you show up 30 minutes late to online class, you can be confident that you haven’t missed a single thing. The professor is definitely still trying to share their screen and let everyone into the class from the waiting room simultaneously. One student is explaining in the chat that no one can hear the audio from the video, but the professor also can’t figure out how to work the chat and the presentation at the same time. Please send help.

9. Virtual labs

Labs are all about hands-on learning that will be applicable in the world of co-op and careers post-graduation. So, you can imagine how helpful virtual labs are when we can’t do anything in-person and have to go off of low quality images to complete a report worth 30 per cent of our grade.

10. Not having to interact with UW geese

There are very few things in the entire world that are more terrifying than the UW campus geese.

They are, in fact, the university’s worst personality trait, as well as my sleep paralysis demons. I can still feel the warm squish of goose poop under my shoe as I’d try to walk across campus. The honks and hisses can be heard from 50 feet away from the entrance of any building and legend has it that a first-year student went missing after trying to start beef with one of the geese (the legend is the goose ate them). 

If we’re coming back to campus, hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your shins because these geese have only grown since online school began.