High Point University

In-person or virtual classes: which prevail?

By Nasia Ballas

Staff Writer


Right now, we’re all scared of what is and what’s to come. We face daily complications      

 wondering when our world will decide to stop throwing change our way. Though drowning at times, hints of normalcy always let us bob back to the top of the water. In-person classes have had that effect on me. They’ve been a life jacket of sorts. 

Schools are handling today’s challenges in their respective ways. Some have online classes, a few are exclusively in-person and others have a hybrid of both. We all should be nothing short of grateful to be able to experience education in the way High Point University has allowed us to.

Schools that are currently online-only are having issues with teacher-student communication, student motivation and overall community satisfaction. Safe, distanced, personalized learning has been such a gift at this time, and HPU has gone above and beyond to satisfy the needs of its community. 

Don’t get me wrong — I am wholeheartedly thankful for virtual classes. They provided makeshift learning environments, when almost everything in our world turned upside down. Online classes rekindled a subtle sense of belonging, joy and interaction with peers in the midst of forced isolation. What they simply did not have the power to do, however, was fully replace the experience of in-person learning.

As an HPU freshman, ending my last year of high school through a screen was disheartening to me and I’m sure to every high school senior who had to experience the loss of celebrating such an important milestone. Though we were content to have online classes as an option, virtual learning just couldn’t convince us that we were getting the same experience as we would’ve during our final days as seniors. Treading water was getting exhausting. We all needed that floatation device. 

Arguments that advocate for online classes are understandable. There is merit in virtual learning, as it pertains to keeping others safe; however, properly-distanced and safely-handled class time exceeds any logic would suggest that keeping students isolated is in anyone’s best interest. The longer we keep people locked in solitude during class time — and in general, for that matter — the more mental health crises we will observe and the less joy we will experience in everyday life.

It really is that simple. Human connection is an invaluable beauty, and for some people, it can come in infrequent increments. Belonging is crucial to our basic human needs, and it is much more difficult to come by when we can’t have real interactions.

The inability to have a normal errand-running experience, shake hands when we meet someone new or hug our loved ones without a second thought is already enough to cause concern for our world’s future. Reducing people’s opportunities to connect with each other through the inexplicable power of in-person emotion is terribly counterproductive. In fact, it’s the opposite of what we need right now. 

I ask you to pause and imagine your most influential schooling experience. Reflect upon the words your teacher used, the manner in which he or she expressed them and their conveyed message. Maybe there were no words. Perhaps it was the silence that followed an emotional interaction that changed your perspective. Regardless of the exact situation, recall the emotion that filled the room and your peers’ faces as you looked around. If this moment was one-on-one with a teacher, remember the unmatchable intensity and overall impact of the conversation.

Remember the eye contact, the engaging dialogue, the way you were so focused on every piece of the situation. Relive this for a moment, and ask yourself, “Could I have experienced that invaluable exchange on a Zoom call?” 

If your experience was anything like mine, the answer is a resounding no. Our societal responsibility requires us to dive into the challenge of in-person learning, no matter how scary the water may seem. If we hold true to the basic needs of humanity and trust that God will toss us the life jacket, we’ll always float back to the top.