The new class system is both flexible and empty


Illustration by Derrick “DJ” Reed.

This last week, Southern Miss students began online-only classes. Instead of meeting up in classrooms at 8 a.m., most are either watching video lectures or participating in conference calls to stay on top of classwork. This decision only happened two weeks ago. Like many, I was caught off guard and wondered how teachers were going to handle the new teaching system.

So far, this decision has its pros and cons, so let’s start with the good.  

There’s a lot more time to work on assignments and projects. Before, there was only so much time a person had after class. As a result, a lot of students put in all-nighters to get work done. Knowing you can now wake up and do the work when you want removes a lot of that tension.

At the same time, though, a new challenge comes from making the most out of each day. For some, the online-only model seems like an excuse to procrastinate even more. When most  businesses are closed, it’s easy to be tempted to sit at home and twiddle your thumbs on the phone. For others, they focus only on schoolwork, wearing themselves out mentally and physically.

Therefore, it pays to come up with a schedule of when to work or study. For me, a daily schedule helps time fly by quickly and I get a lot done in the process. It also helps me pace myself, since I also designated time away from a computer screen to take a break. 

Online-only classes seem great, but they pale in comparison to the real deal. Because the campus is closed and everyone is at home, the college experience just isn’t the same. Weirdly, the rush of hurrying from class to class and cutting it close on deadlines is what defines college. With so much time to do whatever, it really puts into perspective how adrenaline-inducing college could be. There is also no one to interact with. Conference calls provide some measure of contact with other people, but it feels more like you’re participating in a phone call rather than a group meeting.

When the spring semester ends in May and the fall semester starts in August, who knows how returning students will feel about being on campus again after spending a couple of months taking classes on a computer.  For current freshmen, they might find it hard to believe Southern Miss was once a thriving university and not a ghost town. 

The online model may only be temporary, but its effects will be long-lasting.