The benefits of online vs. on-campus learning at community colleges 

A home set up for online learning. Arturo Flores/Lariat

This year has seen a challenging transitional period for schools in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly schools had to quickly adapt to the shelter in place orders and figure out solutions to continue student education from home. Thankfully due to programs and applications like Zoom and Google Classroom, learning from home isn’t as challenging to achieve; however, it might not be the most ideal way for some students. 

Admissions have slightly gone up or stayed the same for the most part at Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College, according to Community College Review and US News. Part-time and full-time students have gone up by an estimated 500 enrolled admissions. Now that people are stuck at home with more time on their hands, they see it as a convenient thing to reapply and take some classes to further their education and experience.  

“Why not?” said Faten Moubayed, mother and elementary school tutor. “We will be under these stay at home rules for the time being and because of that I have more time on my hands, it gives me a good opportunity to relearn a few things that could maybe help with my job or further my career.” 

Some see this as an opportunity to further their education, focus more on their career or even try new things that they may not have been able to do before. It’s been difficult for some students to adjust to being fully online. Those who have little to no experience with technology may also be simultaneously dealing with their first semester of college or tackling some of their major’s hardest classes. 

“It’s extremely stressful especially for a computer science engineering major,” said Rahnya Moubayed, tutor and current Computer Science major at Saddleback College. “The classes that this major requires are meant to be in person, so when we transitioned to online classes it becomes really hard and stressful for me to understand certain concepts that were very important. Taking calculus and physics online is a struggle and definitely wouldn’t do this if it was my choice, by far the most stressful semester of my college experience.” 

While the online classes are the best approach for the situation at hand, it’s easy to see how this might not entirely work for all classes. Some courses require labs, equipment and programs that colleges provide and most students won’t be given the opportunity to experience or learn these tools and skills firsthand. On-campus classes also allow students without computers and printers to work with the equipment available. 

Some schools do provide low-income students with laptop loans and even textbooks from libraries for the semester. However, some students still struggle to focus from home with family, work and other distractions. Online classes do provide the benefit of mobile school education; however, some students have full-time jobs and classes don’t take into account the struggle to get food on the table and keep the lights on

As of right now, the pandemic has pushed online classes for IVC and Saddleback to spring 2021. However, it might not end there just yet. The situation is constantly changing as staff and faculty are doing what they can to make the best out of the situation.

There are still things to consider, like students that are still employed with increased hours due to fewer people working, classes that are unfair or just don’t work online and more provisions for low-income students.