Making a raquet

Robertson balances tennis and online school



2020: sleep, tennis, school, repeat. 2021 is the same. 

While students across campus finalize schedules, sign up for clubs and readjust to learning on campus, junior Emily Robertson has decided to continue learning remotely with the independent study program. As a varsity and competitive tennis player, her training takes her to the Gomez Tennis Academy in Florida. She has an “intense” training schedule: tennis in the morning, academics over lunch, more tennis, and then homework for the rest of the night.

“I switched to the online [curriculum] the second semester of last year, and it was way more flexible for my schedule,” Robertson said.

According to Robertson, independent study comes with its pros and cons. 

“It is more difficult to understand certain topics when a teacher isn’t there to help you, but I got used to it. It fit my schedule better, and I wasn’t as stressed,” Robertson said.

It helps, she mentioned, that the course material is “thorough.” Other than a daily check-in and the ability to schedule one-on-one Zoom meetings with teachers on a necessary basis, this curriculum is completely asynchronous. 

 “They try to make it as detailed as possible,” Robertson said. Lessons build up to quizzes, then study guides and eventually tests at the end of each unit. “It’s a lot of material to help you study and make sure that you’re ready.” 

Though she likes the lesson plans, Robertson’s course selection became more limited once switching online. 

“Independent study offers some AP classes, but not nearly as many as there would be if I were in-person. I was in AP European History first semester last year, but when I switched curriculums they didn’t have it and I was a little disappointed. I had to move to regular history,”  Roberston said. 

Learning remotely—first on Zoom, then asynchronously with independent study—also changed Robertson’s social circle. 

“At the beginning of COVID, I thought, ‘okay, this is a good change.’ It felt like I could get away from everything, and I needed that. Then after a while, I wanted to go back. But I started to drift away from my school friends and made more tennis friends. So, at the end of the day, I don’t have a lot of school friends, just tennis friends—and that’s okay,” Robertson said. 

Despite completing credits off-campus, Robertson still wants to have the “normal” high school experience. Attending school dances, for example, is still a welcome possibility. 

“I feel like prom would be really fun. I’d still want to go, because I’ve heard so many good things about it. I’d still want to go to [school dances] because I feel like they’re a part of high school. I want to experience those things; I don’t want to miss out on that just because I am also prioritizing tennis,” Robertson said. 

For the foreseeable future, though, Robertson predicts that she will continue with independent study.

 “A lot could change in the next year, but with the way things are going now, I think I’ll stay with the online program,” Robertson said. “I’m much happier with the way things are now, since I’m able to do what I want on my own terms.”