What Joley Learned as a Visiting Scholar

Meet Joley, a visiting scholar in the Class of 2024 | Apr 20, 2021

When she was a senior at a high school in San Francisco, Joley Costa learned about Minerva from her mother. At that time, however, Joley had already committed to her future university, a private college on the East Coast, and was on a gap year in France. But when the COVID-19 pandemic quickly shut the world down in March 2020, stranding Joley abroad, she decided to rethink her educational plans.

“When my [future] school decided to transfer to online classes, a type of education they did not have experience in operating, I decided to look into other options for non-residential programs similar to Minerva’s model,” shares Joley. “[I] first learned about the Visiting Scholars Year, a chance for me to try out this educational style and see if it was a good fit before making a long-term commitment.”

Having moved to France to travel, gain a global perspective, and integrate her experience into the novel she was working on, Joley also felt that she had become more internationally-minded during her time there and had doubts that she would fit in as well to her original college choice. Ultimately, she chose to apply as a Visiting Scholar to Minerva, a diverse institution with classes based on active learning, which she felt would challenge her more.

While universities around the world were forced to change because of lockdowns and most students had to adapt to digital classrooms and the concept of “study from home,” Joley felt lucky because Minerva had an established history with Forum, Minerva’s digital active learning platform. As a Visiting Scholar, Joley took Foundation Year classes and participated in virtual community experiences alongside Minerva students.

“In traditional institutions, nobody checks on your progress and keeps track of your work. People go to Zoom classes, turn off their camera and learn nothing. However, at Minerva, [before] coming to each session, I need to have gone through my readings to answer in-class poll questions, accomplish pre-class work, and pay attention to the discussion, in case the professor cold-calls on me,” Joley notes. She recognizes that this educational style is not always easy, but she believes that it is good in motivating her and her fellow classmates to learn well by creating accountability in a remote setting.

“Minerva always knows how to empower me to work harder and be more responsible. I love the feeling of getting confetti every time I submit assignments early. When I say something interesting and relevant in class, I receive so many snaps [agreement] from my classmates, which gives me a big ego boost. Those things are small, but they enhance the confidence and motivation of students to improve themselves,” she relates.

In addition to enjoying this new learning style with high accountability, Joley was impressed by the type of content in her Foundation Year courses, which introduced her to a variety of new concepts. As someone who plans to pursue a career in writing through courses in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, the Complex Systems course was particularly enlightening, teaching her to analyze and understand real-world systems and agent-based interactions. Joley has an interest in educational writing, having previously taught high school students how to craft well-structured evidence-based history papers, so she is excited to add these new frameworks to her skill set. She also particularly enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of her classes, as she is able to find connections and similarities in the content across courses as well as bring in experiences from her personal life to make concepts more relatable — both of which she believes make the learning process more cohesive and logical.

“I have wanted to be a writer since I was very little but something that Minerva has helped me realize is that I actually like coding too. I kind of like all of the things that we’re covering, little bits of each one [class]. I can see things that I like in every class, so I’m very lucky about that,” she shares.

While Joley originally decided to join Visiting Scholars Year due to the pandemic, she enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to transfer to Minerva officially. She is excited to continue her time with her classmates as an official member of the Class of 2024.

“Applying to Visiting Scholars Year is free, so you should go for it and try out the experience for yourself. You never know what might happen in the future. At Minerva, you can have a great digital education experience where you will learn a lot and gain new skills, which you can transfer in anything you do in the future. Compared to many American universities, Minerva is novel, more interesting, innovative, and less expensive, especially in this time when everything is not yet back to normal.”

To learn more about Minerva’s Visiting Scholar Year, please visit our website.