NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Online learning has lasting appeal for some students

Coronavirus and its harrowing pandemic have caused a resurgence and appreciation in virtual learning.

As universities and other educational institutions begin reopening, more students are choosing to stay online.

At Northern Essex Community College, with a student body of 5,233, approximately one-fifth of the population is enrolled in online courses.

The rise of virtually enrolled students is no coincidence; before the reopening of NECC, students were exclusively online throughout the pandemic.

Now, with the choice of in-person and online, more students are choosing to remain virtual.

Nicole Sabando, a second-year transfer student ofNECC, said “My parents are older than most people’s parents my age. Plus, they are immuno-compromised, I can’t risk their health. We’re vaccinated but that does not mean we can’tget [coronavirus]. Online is just the best way to go for the sake of my health and theirs.”

The risk of testing positive still remains a threat to many people’s health, and online is a safe option fort hose who cannot chance being exposed.

Although NECC has a mask mandate, Sabando says “I appreciate the precautions, but I also appreciate having the choice of how I get my education.”

Alternatively, Christian Furtado, second year student of NECC, says “I work two full-time jobs. I do not really have the time to sit in a classroom for however many hours a day. I want my degree, but I also need to be able to pay for it.”

The pandemic has posed a national threat to financial security — this includes students. With COVID unemployment benefits ending this year, students who collected unemployment are now headed back to work.

Furtado added “Online learning allows me to make my own schedule and manage my time how I want to. It’s a lot of responsibility [being online] but it’s what works best for me. The pandemic hit us like a truck, so now it’s back to work and back to school.”

Online learning has become a tool for Furtado; he gets to work long hours and get his work done.

Jayviar Laporte, second year student of NECC, says of online courses “It just feels right to me. I discovered during the pandemic that I work best individually. Online is best for my mental health.”
Laporte graduated high school at the height of the pandemic and chose to stick with what he has grown accustomed to.
“Social distancing and being stuck at home for so long was a blessing in disguise for me,” said Laporte. “At first I hated it, but now I love it. I learned self-discipline with my work and staying on track. I don’t procrastinate as much as I used to, and I honestly appreciate my education more, knowing it’s all on me.”
All three students agreed that their biggest struggle with online courses is time management.
Sabando said “The thing is, being at home makes it easy to forget about an assignment or to be unmotivated. You have to really want it to be able to do it. It’s definitely not for everyone.”
The pandemic made education hard for both students and teachers with the quick and not-so-smooth transition to virtual learning. Now that schools are reopening, online courses are still a norm for many people.