Here’s what I learned from taking seven virtual college courses in one semester


Courtesy of Briana Munoz

Briana Munoz felt pressured to take seven classes last semester to graduate on time and protect her financial aid status.

I took seven classes last semester and somehow survived.

I don’t regret my decision. I passed all of my classes with A and B grades. However, there are a lot of things I would do differently if I had to do it again. For the sake of maintaining my GPA – and my sanity.

If you’ve been to college, you know how difficult it can be to take four or five courses in one semester. What would make me sign up for such a crazy number of courses?

The truth is, the money made me do it. My financial aid program clock was ticking, which meant I had to graduate within four years or face thousands of dollars in tuition and other school-related costs.

I understand that I am not the first student to take seven courses. It felt somehow manageable due to the heavy course loads I had dealt with in previous semesters.

I took five courses while balancing two part-time retail jobs in my first two years as a student. I figured if I was able to handle this I could put up with seven online courses while only working one part-time job in a fruit juice to cover the $ 350 in rent I paid. to my parents.

I learned the hard way how taking seven classes during a pandemic quickly becomes exponentially more difficult given the endless load of homework and Zoom’s awful eight-hour days packed with it.

I was lucky if I could leave my room for more than five minutes to take a bathroom break or sneak into my first meal of the day. The hydrating eye drops could no longer soothe my sandpaper eyes. Most of the time, I would walk out of each Zoom feeling exhausted while dreading the online homework that lay ahead.

The opportunity to take classes from the comfort of my home seemed like a blessing since I wouldn’t have to be on campus all day. Looking back, I would have preferred to have had to drive or take the bus to get to campus rather than being hiding hour after hour in my lonely, dimly lit room.

There were nights when I would fall asleep dreaming about the assignment I had last worked on, as if my brain had no more events to remember since most of my days consisted of being glued to my chair and my computer. Before I was forced into virtual learning, I could rest my mind by dwelling on a song I discovered while walking to the bus stop, or wonder about silly thoughts like the where my teacher bought his candy red shoes.

But now all I could think of was checking my teachers’ emails. I know being a busy student is nothing new, but when the comforts of your bedroom get lost amidst the stress of a makeshift classroom, things get pretty blurry.

I was so wrapped up in my work that there was no time to think about how underwater I was. Instead, I would criticize myself for every slippage or missed deadline.

“Why can’t I complete the simpler tasks?” I kept asking, comparing myself to my classmates and their work ethic.

One day my classmates and I were joking about how the semester was going in a Zoom chat room. My classmates shared that they were taking three or four classes, so when I announced how many I was taking, their loud gasps led to an epiphany. I was so used to continually minimizing my workload that I started to believe it was okay. I needed to learn to give myself the credit I deserved for my efforts and recognized that I sometimes needed help.

I promised myself that from then on I would start talking and explaining to my teachers when I needed extra help or extra time to complete an assignment.

My parents saw how many times I stayed up late at night typing on my computer to finish my homework. They rewarded my efforts by telling me that I wouldn’t have to pay them rent for the rest of the school year, which meant I could quit my part-time job at Juice n ‘Bowls. I immediately accepted this offer, having learned to turn to help when it was offered. And I was able to incorporate exercise, cooking, and roller skating into my daily routine, which helped offset the pressure of my college job.

Taking seven courses in one semester is hard enough. I only added to my full plate by wasting time criticizing every little mistake and missing the opportunity to lean on others when needed.


Briana Muñoz recently graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, where she studied journalism. She is also a summer intern with the California Student Journalism Corps at EdSource.

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