Most of you know I’m finishing my English degree online. I’m married with four kids, a dog, and a full-time job. Oh, and I live in the middle of nowhere. Finishing this degree on campus was not even an option. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I have to finish my degree in the hours after my kids go to bed and in all the other spaces I can find in the day (and the night and the afternoon and . . . )
My experience going back to school online has been so positive, that I didn’t even know I was missing something – until this weekend. I convinced Seren to jump in the car with me and make a road trip to a Verbal Arts Festival at my university, which turns out to be only about 2 1/2 hours away. As I sat at a long table in a charming cafe on Saturday afternoon, I got to chat with my advisor over chicken salads and a Diet Coke. Up until this weekend I had only known these professors through email and online course management systems. Sitting across from her at lunch I was able to admire her elegant silver hair and charming smile.
I didn’t only meet professors, either. One of my classmates came all the way from California! Meeting the actual person behind a Facebook profile is like the difference between the photograph of the menu item and the food itself actually sitting on a hot plate in front of you. It may not be exactly what you were expecting, but it is always more satisfying to be able to touch it, smell it, and taste it. I savored every moment with these friends.
When former socialite Margaret Hale (from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South) meets common factory workers Nicolas and Betsy Higgins she says she finds a reason to enjoy her new town because she has found a “human connection.” This is how I felt about my education this weekend. Luckily, I’ve always enjoyed my online studies, but now I feel so much more connected to them!