On Monday, I will be a student again. I’ve spent a total of 18 years as a student so far–16 if you don’t think pre-school and kindergarten should count. But unlike those previous 18 years of student-ing, on Monday I don’t have to get up and go to a classroom. Instead, I will get up and go to my job, as I do every weekday. And then, after work, I will sit down with my laptop and log in to my online course portal.
Taking classes online will be a new experience for me, but I will be earning my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) entirely online. So, theoretically, in 1.5-2 years, I should have another degree without ever having stepped foot on my university’s campus.
I know that this is something that tons of people do. In fall 2015, over 5 million students were enrolled in an least one distance education course at a postsecondary institution. At that time, 12.1% of undergraduate and 24.9% of postbaccalaureate students were enrolled exclusively in distance courses. That means that about a quarter of my peers who are pursuing a graduate degree are doing so online, but I have to admit that I still feel isolated in this process.
Classes start on Monday, but until three days ago, I did not know exactly where in cyberspace I needed to “go” for my classes. I was willing to call someone at the university if I had to, but being the Millennial that I am, that was a last resort, so I resorted to a Google search. “[Name of my institution] online classes” went into the search bar. Nothing useful came up, but Google is one smart cookie, and she (in my mind, Google is female-gendered) suggested “[name of my institution] online classes log-in.” Bingo–I was in!
Once I was in the right place, I found a syllabus for one of my courses and discovered that I would need to buy a textbook for it.
Now, maybe this seems obvious to you. It probably should not have been a surprise to me. But it was. Wait a second, I thought, I can get an entire degree from the internet, but I still have to buy a physical, overpriced textbook that I’m going to sell back for, like, 5 cents in a few months?? For some inexplicable reason, I thought I was past that point. I am going back to school to be a librarian, and I assumed books would not be a part of that.
Not an auspicious start.