Why In-Person Classes are Worth it

This year is my second year studying at UVIC. Yet, I feel like this year is my first year as a REAL university student since I’ve just finished my first semester in person.

As a writing major in an arts degree, I had 25 people or less in all three of my in-person classes (compared to science students with 200-300 in a lecture hall).

This single semester I’ve received lower grades than all of last year online. Yet, this year I feel that I was more engaged with the class material, professor, and my classmates while gaining more experience, knowledge, and excitement than my two past online terms.

The main differences between online and in-person classes are:

1.Class discussions

The in-person class discussions are engaging as it felt easier to ask questions, voice personal perspective, and connect with others compared to attempting discussions over Zoom, which consisted of listening to black screens, electronically raising hands (hoping that the prof would even notice), and feeling the anxieties of interrupting another student.

Each of my in-person professors made class discussions the main priority of each three-hour lecture which created more opportunity to learn using engagement and made the most difference compared to online classes.

students in a university classroom

A lively class discussion in the pre-Covid days

2. Attending Class

Some students might say that online classes felt optional to attend. The in-person aspects of each class made it feel much more worth it to physically attend because of the opportunities that face to face connection has.

I had a few classes that were optional to attend which contained opportunities to receive extra feedback from the professor and lectures in regards to content that some students were already familiar with.

Even though the class was optional, I still chose to attend since the opportunity to connect with the content in person felt so beneficial and helpful. In the end, I actually wanted to attend each class, even if it was optional.

The Clearihue building

3. Paying Attention/Staying Focused

It was more important and easier to pay attention in-person because of the face to face aspect without the anonymous black screens. The participation marks were accumulated by eye contact, responding to content, class discussions, and asking questions, rather than simply rolling over in bed to turn on Zoom then rolling back to go back to dream land.

It was easier to stay focused since eye contact and body language showed you were paying attention while the content felt more engaging and exciting in person. The more I locked eye contact with my professor, the more I felt like I needed to and wanted to be paying full attention.

4. Connecting with Classmates Outside of class/Making Friendships

Students in UVic’s writing program

Before, during, and after in-person classes I was able to create personal connections with classmates, whether that be hanging out on campus after class, making plans off campus, or chatting with people during the 10-15 minute break.

In my first year, most students over Zoom didn’t want to show their face or even connect with others, and even if that was the case most students weren’t in Victoria to connect in person.

Connecting with students outside of class helped my excitement to attend the class and encouragement to talk about the class in general. Creating friendships made the class feel like a community, even a family.


On the last day of my first term in person, I felt like I was going to miss my little family from each class, especially my creative non-fiction class.

On the last class and final goodbye to my creative non-fiction class, my professor Deborah Campbell bought the class Timbits (and Timbiebs) while we listened to and cheered on each other’s personal non-fiction pieces. We ended the class with a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting.

I call this one: “The Last Class”.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Bruce Taylor says:

    Interesting thoughts. In August i finished a one year MA (York), all done online (including research for the Major Research Paper). The same faces showed up in a number of classes, but it is weird to have gone through an entire degree program without ever meeting my peers (except one man with whom i took 1 undergrad class). Yes, I certainly missed the after class socializing, but one of the profs opened Zoom meetings 1/2 before scheduled class start time and purposely absented himself just to give students a chance to communicate without his presence.

    • Annika Olson says:

      What a great idea from your professor!
      Some profs do prioritize community in the classroom and it shows by how they go above and beyond to engage the students in conversation. Thank you for commenting. I enjoyed reading your personal experience.