In 2020, virtual is the new black. Classes, happy hours and even conferences have shifted to the new norm.
Those of us starting business school in this new norm don’t have another norm to compare it to. So, from what I can tell from this side of the screen, we’ve been making it our own.
Since we can only do so much to control the tide of the pandemic and return to a new state of normal, I wanted to reflect on some of the upsides to virtual business school that I’ve experienced during term A.
1. More hours in the day.
Because there is no commute to classes or meetings, I’ve found I have more hours in the day to get things done. Of course, after studying for midterms and term A finals, I still found myself wishing that there were more hours in the day.
2. Fewer distractions (and less FOMO).
When I first accepted my offer to University of Maryland in January, events were still happening, I was still meeting up with larger groups. I was sad that after starting business school, I would have to miss out on meeting up with friends and going to fun events. Little did I know that that decision to give those things up would have already been made for me before logging into my first Zoom class thanks to COVID restrictions. Of course, the usual internet distractions still exist but there are lots of apps and blockers out there to help you restrict your distraction time during the day.
3. More time outside.
My favorite study spot, at least in Maryland’s mild fall weather, is on my back porch, pictured above. Here, I can be calmed by nature, even while I spread out my “war room” of class notes, the TI-84 calculator that hadn’t been used since high school and various reminders (stay tuned for later blog posts during finals when the spread will get crazier). Spending time studying outdoors makes me feel at least a little better about spending 12 hours a day on school.
In other words, you have to make the most of what you’re given. I look forward to the day when I can meet my classmates in person safely, present live to my class without using Zoom and speak with potential employers face-to-face without a computer screen in between us. Because of everything that has happened over the past year, I know that when these interactions are able to happen safely, I’ll appreciate them that much more.
–By Laura Hayes. Hayes is a 2022 MBA Candidate and a Forté and Smith Fellow. Originally from Gaithersburg, Md., Hayes worked in marketing roles for four years in the financial services industry before coming to Maryland Smith.