Opinion: Being an AAP student prepared me for online college
Two years in the Associates in Arts (AAP) program largely felt like two more years of high school; the move to UD online courses has largely seemed like an extension of that.
What are online classes for a college student who has never lived in Newark?
The AAP is the university’s associate’s degree program available to Delaware students in situations where they cannot afford main campus tuition or do not have the high school grades to enter. .
AAP courses are taught by college professors at Delaware Technical Community College campuses across the state. The courses available there are meant to cover width requirements and ease the transition to the main campus.
At the Terry Campus AAP program in Dover, there were four classrooms. Two of them were about the same size and placed opposite each other in a hallway. One was a windowless room, usually as hot as an oven, with less square footage than the other two classrooms, but with about the same number of desks. The final room was a computer lab with a camera on the ceiling to make sure no one used the computers to cheat.
Going to the PAA was a lot like taking the 13and and 14and class in a much smaller school because you are only ever in four rooms. Some semesters would have been spent sitting through six-hour blocks in the same classroom as professors came and went.
Succeeding in AAP was a lot like impostor syndrome: feeling like you didn’t deserve the achievement you received, or feeling like you’re “cheating” everyone around you into thinking you’re better than you are.
Academic studies have focused on impostor syndrome in women and ethnic minorities, and it was widely believed that these groups were the only ones to have experienced the phenomenon. A study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior in 2019 found that impostor syndrome is found in 20% of undergraduate students. Another study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that first-generation college students are more likely to suffer from impostor syndrome, as they typically have to navigate the institution without much help from family.
Every semester I did well in the AAP, I felt like I was tricking the university into giving me a Dean’s List award because I wasn’t where the “real” classes were. Having the perception that college classes were held in large lecture halls with about 200 other educated students, this idea that my classes had to be easier, and therefore succeed in them was not something I could be proud of.
I still don’t really have a benchmark for how hard main campus classes are compared to AAP, but if online classes are similar, AAP really isn’t that far off. In AAP, I didn’t feel like the setting I was in was the real deal, and I still don’t because of the physical and mental distance from the college campus.
Although I technically take university classes with university students and professors and even get involved in registered student organizations, I still don’t feel like a university student.
During my time as an ugly kid in college under the stairs, I picked up a few things that helped me feel more connected.
Keeping extra projects, like working on art or writing side projects, was really important to me. I wouldn’t say it was that I was under-stimulated, but having something to do with the massive downtime I had helped me not to think about the current situation. . I found that with the increased downtime I had during online classes that weren’t through the AAP, it worked as well.
It was great to leave the Terry Campus as much as possible during my time at AAP. With the friends I made there, it was nice to spend time between classes with them, to eat among other things.
When the pandemic locked everything down, the idea of face-to-face socializing came to a halt. Luckily, we were all able to continue hanging out between our Zoom conferences via Discord, which we continue to do on a pretty daily basis.
The most helpful thing I did to stave off these feelings of anxiety and despair was learning to keep a diary. I have made a habit of filling out each syllabus date for all my courses at the start of the semester. I also write things that I would like to finish at the beginning of each week.
Crossing these things out keeps a physical record of the things I’ve accomplished and helps me see the things I have left to do. Plus, keeping a diary helps keep the days from mixing up.
I am still largely undecided as to whether I will go to campus in the fall if the pandemic persists. I still feel like I missed a lot of the college experience, but I also think the pandemic has redefined the college experience as a whole. I know I’m learning in my online classes, and I think that’s what ultimately matters. Still, part of me yearns to experience the day and night life that college and Newark have to offer.
For me, the decision to live on campus for the first time in my college career will likely come down to thread.
At this point, I don’t think I would mind completing my degree online. Taking my senior year on a campus I’ve only been to a handful of times would be more complicated than anything else. I would basically have to learn where every building on campus is in my senior year as a 22-year-old freshman.
Dan Larlham Jr. is a reporter for The Review. His opinions are his own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review’s editorial staff. He can be contacted at [email protected]