Juggling in-person and online classes

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Students make use of online resources to expand their knowledge and further explore passions outside of the classroom. [PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA DING]

Amanda D. ('21)

As a student, finding time to indulge in personal hobbies is an ongoing challenge. This is particularly true for seniors, who bear extra burdens due to college applications and schedules laden with advanced classes. But seniors Isaac Wu (‘21) and Cherry Boontaksinaphan (‘21), have found a different way to nurture their interests: online classes.

To further his interest in psychology, Isaac is taking the Intro to Psychology course offered by Outlier, a startup program offering affordable college-level classes and credits in a flexible virtual learning environment. The classes are taught through pre-recorded lessons with quizzes at the end of each class, as well as a midterm exam.

“I think psychology is useful for a lot of majors,” Isaac said. “Like, I want to go into business and I think psychology is pretty essential.”

At up to USD$400 per course, careful consideration should be given prior to making any registrations..

“It’s quite expensive because they’re giving you college credit,” Isaac said. “And it’s fast paced, so you have to allocate some time everyday or every other day to work on it.”

In addition, Isaac is taking an online Statistics with R specialization course offered by Duke University and plans to take another Outlier class called Calculus next semester.

Cherry participated in a two-month long Harvard University Program for Molecular and Cellular Biology over the summer, which was taught alternately on both Zoom and in-person at the National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu. It included assignments, class discussions, real laboratory work and report submissions, such as finding viable solutions to real life issues such as the COVID-19 coronavirus. Unlike Isaac’s self-regulated learning schedule, Cherry’s live synchronous classes made her experience more difficult due to the irregular times the classes took place.

“From 8:30 to 11:30 pm I would have a lecture, followed by another at 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. We had experiment time, which is harder for the people stuck at home. But luckily for me, I was at a lab, so I could do the experiments at 3 a.m. That was pretty fun, but it was intense,” Cherry said.

However, the virtual nature of the course inhibited some potential benefits of the experience.

“I think the bad part was the lack of interaction between my classmates compared to if I had gone to Boston,” Cherry said. “We didn’t really get to know each other personally.”

But despite the challenges in keeping the balance between sleep, work and having fun, Cherry believes the experiences gained were well worth her time and effort.

“Over the summer, I was making vaccines for COVID-19, so I thought taking a course in molecular and cellular biology would really help me in these life skills and it did,” Cherry said.