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A love letter sent to Columbia Online Learning through the digital realm.

Dearest Online Learning,

When fate inflicted you upon me in March, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

At the beginning of our time together, social hackers Zoom-bombed my Discrete Time Models in Finance class, posed as fellow students, exuded obnoxious animal sounds, and wrote inappropriate comments that were so distracting that I decided to watch the lecture recordings moving forward.

I never would have imagined that one day I would feel this profoundly personal, affectionate, mushy sensation deep inside my mind when I think of you.

Do you remember how in the first few months of our love story, professors would not stop repeating the word “unprecedented”?

I have a secret to tell you.

For the first time, I was obtaining my highbrow, rigorous Ivy League education without having to put together an outfit or even leave my apartment. Because of this, my love for you has grown fonder and fonder.

An impetuous wave of serenity washed over me when I discovered your diverse technical features, which fulfilled my life in a significant, profound way. I’d go as far as to say that it has given my life purpose, meaning, and a sense of security.

I realized what I had been missing in life: High-quality lecture recordings—which were a lifesaver in my programming classes. If it wasn’t for you, I’d still be listening to self-made, low-quality recordings of lectures filled with random coughing, walking sounds, and other noises.

Online Learning, I am smitten with your mastery of time optimization, efficiency, and compartmentalization. Because you exist, the recordings of my applied mathematics junior seminar will be there during my senior year when it’s time to have a solid grasp of the Gaussian and Poisson point process, or the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation. How can I expect to go back to the old ways after the kindness and hospitality you’ve shown me?

Thanks to you, my dearest, I was able to shop for 19 different classes in the span of two hours—something I couldn’t imagine doing before you came into my life.

No more chugging a giant cup of coffee to wake my brain up in the morning while waiting in line to buy the quickest-to-swallow snack; no more drooling over a sandwich I bought in Uris Deli but haven’t had the time to devour; no more struggling to find the correct classroom in Schermerhorn Extension or a seat in John Jay Dining Hall during rush hour; and no more climbing the stairs of Hamilton Hall or running across campus from Mudd to Hamilton as if my life depends on it. I now claim the title of “Most Punctual Person” on our virtual campus.

Every morning, I wake up with the thought of you and the anticipation of what I will learn that day in a stress-free environment. Our love is an inner product of bra theta and ket psi.

By dint of your graciousness, at the end of the week, I actually have the energy to be social rather than feeling a dejecting exhaustion that forces me to interact with the only interlocutor that doesn’t expect me to be eloquent: my bed. You have been a friend who has given me the support to tackle these times in the most comfortable, satisfying, fulfilling way. And for that, I will be forever grateful to you.


Arlo Parker

Arlo Parker is a junior in the School of General Studies double-majoring in applied mathematics and financial economics. When she isn’t writing code or reading books on strategy implementation, you can find her riding off-road dirt bikes, shooting an AR-47, and collaborating with seven-time Grammy Winner Gladys Knight, Ice-T, Treach of Naughty by Nature, and exploring scenic hiking routes all over the country. You can message Arlo on Facebook, Instagram @parker_arlo, or email her at

Love, Actualized is a weekly op-ed series on love, sex, and dating at Columbia. To respond to this piece, or to submit to Love, Actualized, contact

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