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Working from home vs. In-person learning: Which comes out on top?

A list of benefits and drawbacks of having life shift behind a screen.

By: Nina Bayani

The academic lives of students have taken a turn in 2020. After adjusting to online classes and remote internships, in-person classes almost seem like a faint memory.

As someone who had a rough start to their spring semester, online classes felt like a breath of fresh air. However, I realized that working from home also brought some interesting challenges to my daily routine. Here’s some pros and cons of working from home vs. in-person learning that I’ve discovered since going remote.

Work From Home Pro: Less distractions

Because my on-campus job was shut down due to the coronavirus, I left Athens and decided to quarantine back in my hometown. Since my parents are usually at work for the majority of the day, having an entire house to myself was a quiet study environment that I couldn’t find back in Athens. 

On campus, sometimes I’d bump into one of my friends who would join me in studying, only to end up chatting about what’s new in our lives and telling myself that assignment I have pulled up on my laptop can wait another day. I’m not saying that working from home has completely removed my procrastination, but it’s definitely helped eliminate distractions.

Work From Home Con: Finding motivation

No online class can match that engaging learning environment that I’ve missed since leaving campus. When you’re sitting in class, you feel a lot more motivated to participate. You not only did what you needed to do to prepare for class, but also put forth the effort of physically showing up, so of course you’re going to make the most of your time and pay attention. 

Sometimes this motivation isn’t just found by attending class, but through walking a busy MLC packed with students studying diligently. The simple act of being surrounded by a community of other students and knowing that they’re going through the same thing you are can give you motivation that you can’t find in online classes.

In-Person Pro: Variety of study spots

Another thing I miss about campus are the various study spots on and off campus. It’s interesting to think that I went from never studying at home to spending all of my time working from home. I’ve adapted pretty well to my “home office,” but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss having a change of scenery.

There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to have a study date with a friend at the MLC Jittery Joe’s. Even when I had a small gap of time between classes, the fourth floor of Grady was the perfect spot to quickly knock out some items from my to-do list. Needless to say, it’ll be nice to have more than multiple options when looking for a place to study.

In-Person Con: Variety of distractions

We’ve all been there: You’ve found a quiet place on campus to study, your laptop’s open, and your planner’s got a to-do list with tasks that you’re itching to cross off. There’s nothing stopping you from being nothing but productive for the rest of the day. Or so you thought.

Right as you’re getting ready to hunker down, you get a text from your friends inviting you to grab a bite at the dining hall. Maybe one of your friends is only a short walk across campus and it would be a lot more fun to stop by and say hi. 

I’m not opposed to the occasional study break, but if you don’t have a solid game plan for how you'll spend your day on campus, it’s easy to play hooky, especially when there are so many other things going on around campus that you can distract yourself with.

Work From Home Pro: A digital glow-up

Companies that had the luxury of pushing forward with their internship programs during the pandemic ended up going virtual. With this change, a huge amount of networking can now be found on the world wide web. Students who had their initial summer plans cancelled due to the coronavirus resorted to finding other opportunities that only required a computer and an internet connection.

With all of these changes, our digital presence factors heavily into an employer’s first impression of us. I’ve dedicated a generous amount of time to polishing my LinkedIn profile and portfolio, but it’s also important to consider your body language during video interviews or your etiquette when sending emails to recruiters. This quarantine has presented an interesting challenge to perfect the art of making yourself shine through a screen.

Work From Home Con: Working hard doesn’t always work

Online classes have made me realize that with less restrictions, I tend to overwork myself. With in-person classes, I was able to dedicate time spent on campus to do work and time spent at my off-campus apartment to rest and recharge. Now that I’ve had to blend the space of where I work and where I rest, these boundaries aren’t as clear anymore.

I could pace myself at first, but the closer it got to finals, the longer my work days got. After the semester ended, I allowed myself several days to relax, then dove into researching remote internships that were left for the summer. It wasn’t until I experienced job hunting burnout that I realized that my habits needed to change.

If you find yourself mentally nodding your head in agreement, let me be the first to tell you: Time management is your friend. It doesn’t hurt to take the extra time to plan out your week and set aside breaks to relax and let your mind rest.

In-Person Pro: Being Out and About

I think we can all agree that since being in quarantine, the days have started to blur together. As I said before, it was an adjustment to go from rushing out the door at the beginning of the day and not returning back home until late at night some days to spending multiple days in a row at home for the entire day.

Going into quarantine definitely made me realize I took a lot of things for granted. One thing I’ve missed is being able to walk around campus to get to my classes. Even if I’ve learned to appreciate a nice walk around my neighborhood, I can’t help but miss that North Campus scenery. As much as I’ve loved getting to catch up with friends over Zoom calls that sometimes last for hours, I’m itching for that fun night out that’ll be possible once we return to some kind of normal. Hopefully, it’ll only be a matter of time when we can all go out of the house and socialize with friends without the fear of a pandemic looming over our heads. 

In Person Con: Less “me” time

During the two weeks that instruction was suspended after spring break, some reflection made me realize that I definitely spread myself thin this year. It felt like a balancing act to keep up with classes, Talking Dog, my job and other commitments.

Since being in quarantine, I’ve taken advantage of this newfound free time and explored new hobbies and old hobbies I had abandoned or never found the time for. I started doing yoga and also got back into reading books after not having the time to read out of leisure in years. There’s nothing more therapeutic than a nightly yoga session to get my mind off of how crazy the world is right now.

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