Senior vs Freshman Perspective: The Challenges of Virtual Schooling

By: Maddy Levin

Two East High School Siblings Compare Their Experiences with Virtual Learning (While Poking Fun at Each Other in the Process)

Introverts love it, extroverts despise it (and no, it’s not the library). Virtual learning has posed challenges for all students, regardless of grade level, personality type and preferred extracurricular activities. But the classes of 2021 and 2024 have especially unique challenges when returning to school online: while one is nearing the end of their time in high school, the other is just beginning. 

I sat down with my brother, Ollie Levin, where we discussed some of these challenges. “I like virtual learning because it’s more flexible and I have an easier time focusing,” the freshman says. “I get easily distracted in a school setting and get worse grades.” While I don’t necessarily share this struggle, I can speak to this challenge as I often feel distracted both in school and at home. Levin also commented that I “ look like the Walmart version of Miranda Cosgrove” and “smell like cheese.” I strongly disagree with this perspective but respect our differences as siblings and individuals, although my brother forgets that he smells like a dirty toddler half the time and uses a three-in-one in the shower. 

One thing my younger sibling and I can agree on is the feeling of missing out on our high school experiences: “I feel like I’m missing out on starting a new chapter of my life and making friends. I miss having that social aspect.” My brother and I are very social people, hence why virtual schooling tends to put us in a melancholy mood. We both initially enjoyed online learning in the beginning of quarantine, as it gave us a much needed mental health break. Now, however, we are growing tired of each other’s poor sense of personal hygiene and uncanny celebrity look-alikes. “Sometimes when I look at you for a long time, your head seems really big and you look like the llama from Emperor’s New Groove,” says the inferior underclassman. Ollie has undiagnosed halitosis. His breath smells like a barnyard 23 hours of the day; the only other time it doesn’t smell is when his mouth is closed but that’s usually a rare occurrence. He does not stop talking unless his mouth is physically shut. 

One thing I can say is that I do feel sorry for my brother in that he won’t have the same freshman experience as I did. Online school presents a unique challenge for his class as they were exempt from Freshman Academy, putting him and others his age in a difficult position for when school returns. “I wanted to learn the layout of the school before starting,” Ollie adds. “I’m anxious to go back to school because I won’t know where to go.” And while I refuse to believe we are related, I can agree with my brother on one thing: Online learning is difficult for everyone, regardless of class. It is important to hold space for each other in these unprecedented times and practice kindness.