Attending College From My Bed


Rebecca’s Zoom University setup.

During the 2020 spring semester, students merely got a taste of what it was like to attend college from home. I was sitting in my room on a Wednesday afternoon trying to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of my week off when I got the email that spring break was extended and courses were going online for the rest of the semester. I won’t lie; I was excited. An extra week off sounded good to me; I thought about sleeping in and the extra shifts I could pick up. I rushed to text my friends, and they felt the same way. The initial excitement turned into anxiety as the number of cases grew and businesses started closing. The rest of the semester was filled with anxiety, Lysol wipes, Netflix docuseries, quarantine walks, and trying to stay productive. 

When the semester ended, I returned to my usual summer job at a local grocery store. I worked as many hours as I could, trying to avoid unnecessary Covid-talk, and being as sanitary as possible. I thoroughly read the president’s fall updates, attempting to gauge what the semester was going to be like. Knowing most of my classes would be online, I contemplated skipping a semester and working instead. It didn’t seem right (and it still doesn’t, but that’s another conversation), that I would pay the same amount for school entirely online. Despite being an off-campus student, I still heavily relied on campus to get work done. I would spend hours in the library trying to get all my homework done so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at home. Like many other students, I was also concerned about not learning as well in an entirely online environment. 

Now, here I am, attending what many people have termed, “Zoom University”. Even with all my concerns for an online semester, I ultimately decided to go back to school. The thought of graduating a semester later than I planned didn’t sound appealing, especially with the extra months of interest I’d be adding to my student debt, and those thoughts outweighed my concerns for the semester.

It hasn’t been as bad as I thought, but it hasn’t been easy. I have more respect for regular online students as I now understand how much attention, discipline, and self-motivation it takes to get work done, especially for those who live in busy households. On top of living with my family, my mom also runs an at-home daycare, which means between six and twelve children are running around my house at once. While I love and appreciate my family and what my mom does for work, my house isn’t the best place to attend school. 

I’ve been lucky when talking in my virtual classes because I haven’t been interrupted to the point at which my class can hear it. Yet, the background noise often distracts me while I’m talking in class and has made me lose my train of thought. I also hold back in classes because I’m afraid the noise will come through. Sometimes the background noise isn’t a big deal or can even be funny. But as someone who already has a hard time speaking in class, it definitely doesn’t help. It’s also harder to get work done in a noisy environment. It takes a superb degree of attention to work on a project while kids are running and screaming downstairs. I wouldn’t say I have that attention span just yet, but it’s getting better. 

Aside from doing work in a loud house, it’s challenging to do work in a place associated with comfort and relaxation. People say not to do homework in bed because your brain can link your bed to sleeping instead of doing homework – and it could ruin your sleep schedule. At the beginning of my remote learning experience, it was hard to muster up the self-motivation to do work. Especially because my room is a place where I relax and watch Netflix – not where I do school. I still have a hard time motivating myself, but I’ve noticed my room is becoming a place I associate with stress and school, which doesn’t feel healthy. 

Despite all my complaints, there have been some benefits to online school. I’m still able to connect with my professors and classmates in a similar way to traditional school. The most important takeaway is that I’ve been learning a lot about myself, communication, and how to navigate the college and professional world entirely online. There is a lot of question whether this is going to be the new normal; jobs that people can do from home will stay remote even when it is safe to go out. Although I enjoy being able to get up and go to work or school, if this is the way the world is going, I’ll be prepared for it.