Why doesn't UHV offer more face-to-face classes?

The Victoria Advocate will be publishing guest columns from students attending the University of Houston-Victoria. These columns will appear occasionally during the next few weeks. We welcome letters and columns from all students.

I am a 47-year-old student, and I have just come back to college after 20 years. Times have changed since I first enrolled in college more than two decades ago. Back then, most of us did not have computers, much less flash drives. There was also no talk about online courses.

While I was registering for courses at the University of Houston-Victoria, I was shocked that there were few face-to-face classes available in my degree plan. For students like me - who don't own a computer or have Internet access at home - the idea of not having traditional face-to-face classes terrified me.

This semester, I thought I was lucky enough to find two traditional classes that were actually on my degree plan. However, one of my classes has an online section, and now I am realizing what is to come. Now, I am scared. I am constantly dealing with the anxiety caused by my lack of knowledge of technology and my fear of the computer, which I now call the "devil box." I use it only under duress.

I feel that online classes cannot compare to traditional classes where you can meet your professor and actually have a discussion with your classmates. With online classes, the professors are not always available when you need them. Online classes don't offer the one-to-one connection with the professor, which I feel is essential to learning. Back in the day, we had access to our professors. We had the ability to have our questions answered immediately. Sometimes, I have to wait several days to get feedback, and this makes it hard to keep on schedule and meet deadlines. It is just not the same as a face-to-face class. As an older student, I crave the one-to-one connection with my professor; in fact, I need it.

The scarcity of traditional classes is causing me a great deal of anxiety. In my conversations with other students, I am learning that I am not the only person feeling this way. I know that online classes are convenient for many students. I realize that these online courses are the only way some students can earn a degree because of lifestyles, kids and jobs. But I think something is lost in an online class, and I want to be able to feel like I actually had the college experience. I'm not sure I could or would want to finish my degree attending mostly online classes.

The course online section has really confused me and turned me into this needy student who doubts her every move. This is not who I am. I am one very strong-willed woman with lots of determination, and I don't admit defeat easily. So I keep working very hard. I just keep on moving forward, keep telling myself to keep my eye on the prize: my degree.

Don't get me wrong, I am learning. I am doing things now that I could have never done a few weeks ago. I'm able to save to a jump drive, send emails, post comments on online discussion boards, name files and put them into an electronic folder. But every day is a struggle just to do the simplest tasks. Although I learn new computer skills every day, I still feel that I am not prepared to take online courses.

More face-to-face classes are needed at UHV. As an older student, coming back to school was hard enough, but to have these everyday bouts with technology is a thorn in my side. Many older students are returning to college and need the added benefit of face-to-face classes. I know I'm not the only one.

I am very aware of new technology and all of the changes that it has made possible around us. But, for us old-school students, even with all the computers in the world, there will never be a substitute for human interaction. UHV, bridge the gap. Your older students need your support, too.

Angela Howard is a University of Houston-Victoria student attending the class, Writing for Print Media.