Jasmine Justice reached breaking point during the last week of September.
Soaked in witchcraft for three full-time wagons. As a community college student, Employee and mother – justice collapsed. She ignored email reminders from her teachers to submit her assignments. I didn’t understand what I was reading. I was looking at the meaningless charts. ”At Zoom business meetings, she noticed her pale skin and dark circles under the eyes. Her appetite faded. Shocked her 17-year-old daughter Josiah, a high school student, was also locked inside their small apartment.
“Being an undergraduate in a community is a balancing act,” says Justice, 39, a student at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, about 50 miles south of Seattle. “At any moment, the balance can be tipped.”
Across the country, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to be at the center of normality and infects Americans, students of all levels are trying Adapt to virtual learning And schools are socially distant. But the virus and the ensuing recession have had a profound effect on community college students like Justice. they Often the elderly, And balancing school and full-time work. Many parents are unmarried. Statistically, they are often First in their family To pursue post-secondary education is likely to come from prof The lowest socio-economic segment – Which affects access to necessities for distance learning such as High speed internet.
And during a pandemic, They are leaking Or marginalize their educational plans. For these students, delaying their education can have dire consequences.
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Experts fear that gaps based on race and class already rampant in university achievement may develop into a large gap long after the virus is brought under control.
“We’ve never seen anything like (an epidemic) in our lives.… The majority of our students are low-income, and if you encounter them, ‘How will I put food on the table?’ Versus, ‘How am I going to take a class at Community College?” Says Martha Parham of the American Association To community colleges: “We know what they’re going to choose.” We’ve already seen evidence of the widening gap – but how do you plan for that when you build the plane in-flight for your students?
Enrollment has already decreased by 8% nationally – which is unusual during a recession – and the economic impact could be significant. Community college programs tend to graduate students who feed directly on the workforce, such as nurses, electricians, mechanics, and dental hygienists. In 2012, for example, community workers graduating from college Almost $ 800 billion For the United States economy.
Will students be attending the college in Fall 2020?Community colleges offer a hint. She’s not pretty.
As for justice, now in her third year at Pierce, the potential impacts of the pandemic are more personal.
“University degrees show that you can complete something, and that you have technical knowledge, not just on-the-job training,” she says. “Do you want to be the boss? You need letters after your name.”
Learning online brings an unexpected expense
By August, a number of things had worsened for justice. After living with and caring for her ailing grandmother for the past three years, she and Josiah had to move into their own apartment – an expense for which the budget had not been allocated – when her grandmother’s health deteriorated and she moved into a nursing home. When it became clear that the schools would still be online, Justice bought the internet at home, another unexpected cost.
She’s lucky, she says, to have a work laptop that she uses for school, though she admits that she’s not sure if it’s technically permissible. And the bills are piling up. She pays for a car she bought in January. (“It seemed like a good buy at the time, but now we’re stuck at home,” she says sarcastically.) I recently spent $ 300 on books. Pearce’s new computer system delayed many loan payments, and Justice still waited impatiently for the rest of her financial aid to arrive.
At Pierce, Gastus tries to get it Bachelor of Applied Sciences And business administration after receiving her associate degree in 2016. The three-year gap in her education came due to her interest in her grandmother. She works full time at the Bureau of Equality and Diversity in Pierce, and consistently advises students who are on the brink of giving up a little longer.
Some college students did not attend: Community colleges have been particularly hard hit
“I don’t want them to be like me, and they pause their education. I don’t want them to be my age and I’m still trying to get an associate’s degree. It’s like smokers who quit: If I give up and give up, it’s very difficult to start over.”
But she is aware of the challenges. Students are terrified of the lack of financial aid, and they fear the economy will stall. At least one admitted to justice that she slept in her car in the school parking lot due to financial problems. She knows two students who were unable to return this fall due to issues related to COVID-19.
“I don’t know how to hang around all of us, I really don’t know,” says Justice. “Community college is like a second chance in life. We all want to improve ourselves and our attitudes…” Her voice started to cry.
For some, it’s a brutal climb.
No internet, long distances: rural students were particularly hard hit
Community colleges have long prided themselves on accessibility, the ideal institutions for someone who may not have the time, money, or knowledge to navigate the ins and outs of higher education. Rural schools have been hit particularly hard this fall, as they often serve a group of students who are commuting, sometimes over long distances, and often have no internet access at home. According to the University of Alabama Center for Education Policy, 584 of the nation’s 970 community colleges are in rural areas.
Colleges Explode With COVID-19: One school keeps cases down
During a pandemic, leaders like Kevin Boyes, head of the Southern State Community College in OhioWorry about students who were already teetering on the edge, defining a college is too difficult and too confusing to navigate through COVID-19. In the southern state, enrollment is down 16% this semester compared to last fall.
“We have a lot of first-generation college students trying to make their way through the admission process and learn the college language,” says Boise, whose college consists of three campuses in an agricultural area about an hour east of Cincinnati.
“We try very hard to make it easy to use, but I will be the first to say that it doesn’t always work.” “What is a cashier’s office?” Lack of personal touch is currently difficult for community colleges. This is part of our DNA – holding hands and interacting in the face. To face “.
Many students across the country miss this practical teaching.
About an hour south of Atlanta, Noah Jones and his mom Pamela try to adapt to a mostly online model. Not going well.
“I’ve never been so good in an online classroom,” says Noah, 20, who is on the autism spectrum and works to get heating and cooling. Certificate from the Technical College of Southern Crescent. Noah and his mother have no internet at their home in Griffin, Georgia. “Just $ 600 to install a satellite dish is not an option when you have a steady income,” says Pamela Jones. So she has to transport her son to campus twice a week to the school library, where scheduled appointments are the only way to access Wi-Fi.
Due to delayed financial aid, Noah did not receive his books until five weeks after starting school. It was the $ 170 laptop they bragged when internet classes started so good now, but they don’t have the money to put any antivirus on it. Pamela Jones said the school loaned out its limited supply of laptops within days. If Noah breaks, she is not sure what they will do.
“This virus has already created a number in our country,” she says.
Spring might not be the easiest:As the pandemic rages, colleges are turning over spring plans for personal learning and graduation
What if I can’t achieve my goals?
Outside Portland, Oregon, Peter Lance is in his third semester at the School of Nursing at Mount Hood Community College. When the pandemic struck and schools closed – which means There are no personal laboratories Lance was worried that his entire group would retreat. But this fall, Mount Hood is re-conducting in-person clinical studies at a local hospital, with students wearing masks and socially distancing. Lance feels comfortable doing tasks like drawing blood, but being around other nursing students from other schools was intriguing.
“It was good for us to realize that we are not the only ones behind,” he says. “There will be an entire generation, nationally if not all over the world,” in the same situation.
He says Lance is lucky to have adapted. He knows that not every student is in the same position.
“Most people think college students are young men with upper-middle-class backgrounds who go to good-looking housing on a campus full of trees,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. He noted that Harvard recently announced 20% of first-year students I decided to postpone their enrollment.
“20% of our freshmen grades at Harvard will do well,” says Shapiro. “These are the students who have a choice.”
Others don’t, and they really worry that they’ll never catch up with them.
In Ohio, Destiny Smith is also studying nursing. But when the epidemic spread and everything centered on the Internet, the 19-year-old had to withdraw from the southern state. “Not being able to get the teacher to explain things to me personally, it screwed me up,” she says. Since she has suddenly pulled out of the spring and summer semesters, she remains unsure if she will get her full financial aid for the fall semester.
Last week, another hurdle arrived. Smith is pregnant, in late December, and her doctor has put her to rest. This means that the little bit of personal interaction you could have on a socially distant campus is over.
She’s already late, and is worried that she will have to pull out again – and will likely be sidelined for at least a year. She is under academic observation after being absent from the spring and summer.
“I am really determined to get the degree that I need and want,” she says. “ But this is really stressful – what if I just can’t achieve my goals? ”