by Clayton Hoyle
With the switch to online learning, many students have decided to take a break until in-person classes are more readily available. The decisions people had to make about this next semester were not easy, whether it be due to financial reasons, technological resources, or learning preference.
Tyler Faulkingham, a computer science major at Southern Maine Community College was one of those students who made the difficult decision to wait. “I have taken online courses in the past and I just don’t do well in that environment,” he said. Faulkingham noted how he had a problem during quarantine that many young adults and 2020 high school graduates had.
He lost his job at the start of the pandemic and didn’t receive any money during those three months. He was unable to receive a stimulus check or unemployment because he is considered a dependent under his parents even though he has been living on his own since he graduated high school in 2019. He used all his savings paying for food, rent, and utilities during the time he couldn’t work. “It’s not only that I don’t learn well online, but I also can’t afford to pay for school right now,” said Faulkingham. “ Once I could start working again I had no money and I’m still recovering from that.” Faulkingham is only one of many students who have had to choose work or family over school during this fragile time.
Many other students have decided not to cut school out altogether but to cut back on the number of classes they take. Instead of taking four classes maybe they take two or three so they are able to both work and do schooling more effectively.
“I have always been a hands on and in person learner since I was young,” Angle Meserve, a human services major at Southern Maine Community College, explained in an interview. Meserve had trouble with the online switch even after dropping two of the classes she was taking at the time. She was doing quite well with the classes before the switch. She decided that she would do better if she waited and continued classes once she could do them in-person. “I have a better chance of passing them on the first try, I feel like if I was to do online classes I would fail a lot of them,” she said. Unlike Faulkingham, Meserve had trouble finding work after losing her job on campus at SMCC at the start of the pandemic. “I took the summer off to spend time with friends and family and I planned to start working in the fall but it’s been hard finding a job,” Meserve said.
Tens of millions of jobs in the US were lost due to the virus and with all those people out of work it flooded the jobs available for young people. People with more experience have been getting jobs that would normally be for people just starting their careers or with less experience. This makes it harder for a college student who didn’t have a job before the virus or lost it to find one.
While certain students have had to cut back classes or school altogether a majority have been able to stick with their classes just as they were before the virus. Hailey Moore, a Communications and New Media student at SMCC had taken an all online semester before COVID was even thought of and Daniel Dugan had never taken an online course but has been able to transfer over to the online environment easily.