I’m a sophomore in college now, but before that, I was cyberschooled. Way back when I was beginning kindergarten, my parents decided that instead of attending a traditional public school or homeschooling me, I would be enrolled in an online charter school. I stuck with cyberschooling all the way through my high school graduation, and even though it’s been quite a while since I attended an online class, I still remember those days fondly.
By now, you might be wondering, what is cyberschooling? Think of it as a hybrid between a traditional brick-and-mortar school and homeschooling. Like homeschooling, it offers flexibility and allows you to work at your own pace, but like brick-and-mortar schools, you have teachers, classmates, and classes that you attend via the internet.
Now that I’m in college, I’m learning that there are a lot of important life skills I learned while I was still being cyberschooled, and these skills have helped me a lot. Since cyberschooling tends to get a bad rap (much like its cousin, homeschooling), I wanted to share just a few of the things cyberschooling taught me, and how they’ve helped me now that I’m graduated.
How to Write an Email
When you attend school on the internet, your main mode of communication is through email. At my school, all of the students and their parents were given an email account. Random tidbit: We used a server called “Squirrel Mail” for a while before doing the sensible thing and switching to Gmail, but more importantly, that’s one of the reasons our school mascot was “Super Squirrel.” I’m not joking.
Anyway, since most of my communication with classmates and teachers happened over email, I learned early on how to compose a coherent, professional message. I learned that it’s best to explain things in no uncertain terms, because more often than not, emails get misunderstood. I also learned that sometimes, it doesn’t matter how clear you are when asking questions, people still won’t answer them.
Now, even though I’m seeing my professors 2-3 times a week, I still write my fair share of emails. This skill has especially come in handy in communications as a vice president for Minds Matter, where I’m talking to graphic designers, our leadership team, and other groups. I’m sure I would’ve learned how to write emails anyway, but having the experience in high school definitely gave me an advantage.
How to Manage My Time
One of the biggest blessings and curses of cyberschooling is its flexibility. I only had to be in class for a few hours every day, and so the majority of my time was spent doing work outside of those classes. However, because my day wasn’t very structured by the school, I had to learn early on how to use my time wisely. If I knew I’d be occupied with something else one day, I had to make sure I completed my other tasks ahead of time.
Time management is one of the biggest challenges for college students, and even with my experience from high school, I still struggled a lot. Fortunately for me though, I’d already begun learning how to manage my time. This gave me a good advantage my freshman year, because I was able to avoid at least some of the stress that plagued my peers. I’m certainly no expert now, but I’m still growing, and I think I have cyberschooling to thank for that.
How to Make and Give a Presentation
Because my classes took place in online “classrooms,” we didn’t have chalkboards like traditional classrooms do. Instead, most teachers created PowerPoint presentations and shared them in class. When I founded the Writer’s Nook, I had to lead club meetings every other week. Doing this taught me how to create engaging PowerPoints as well as how to present them. Even though I was talking into a microphone, I had to learn how to speak clearly and enunciate. It’s like talking on the phone with someone – if they’re mumbling into the receiver, there’s no way you can hear them.
When I inevitably have to give presentations in my college classes now, I’m not as nervous as I thought I’d be. Sure, I still get a bit jumpy beforehand, but now that I know how to make visually appealing PowerPoints and speak clearly, I definitely have a lot more confidence. This especially came in handy during my freshman year, when I had to give an “explanatory speech,” for my oral communications class.
How to Seek Help
Depending on the class I was in, I sometimes had around 40-50 classmates that I had to compete with for the teacher’s attention. As you can probably guess, that meant that sometimes I didn’t get all of my questions answered. Fortunately, our school had scheduled “Office Hour” time on Fridays instead of our regular classes, so we could visit the teacher’s virtual “office” and ask for the help we needed. I learned pretty early on that this was something I should take advantage of, especially when it came to the subjects I wasn’t as strong in.
In college, I kept this practice up. One of the main reasons I think I was able to do so well in my French classes was because I asked my professor for help when I needed it, and I made a habit of visiting her office hours when I needed help. I had already trained myself to seek the help I needed, rather than waiting for someone to help me, and it really paid off in the long run.
Of course, I had to adjust to a lot of things in college, such as sitting in actual classrooms for a big portion of my day, but overall, I think being cyberschooled helped me a lot. Starting college is a challenge for everyone, but the skills I learned in high school made my transition easier in a lot of ways.