The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the position of ZU Media or APU

How the online college experience is making life more difficult for students.

The year 2020 has been full of “new normals” for the Azusa Pacific University community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the introduction of online learning, many of the 6,293 undergraduate and 5,550 graduate students attending college this fall were left with no choice but to adapt. Though the risk of potential breakouts are being reduced, it comes at a cost for many students during this unprecedented time.

Before I start, I want to make clear:

Azusa Pacific University should be online this semester. With 270,299 cases reported in Los Angeles County over the course of this outbreak, the idea of putting students at risk would be foolish.

However, there are three major reasons why distance learning has been negatively affecting APU students.

Paying in-person tuition for an online experience

There is a great impact of paying in-person tuition for an online experience. With a hefty price tag of $20,415 per semester, it puts this community in tough financial situations. Students have to decide if it is worth the cost of continuing their education at this institution. 

As someone who pays for their own tuition, the biggest factor keeping me at APU is the difficulty it would be to transfer my credits from a Christian school to a potential public college. I am positive that many other students at this university are asking themselves the same question.

The limitations of distance learning

This new learning environment has made it difficult for students to have the same quality of education they would normally receive. I asked junior Ryan Negrette about how his pursuit of a public relations degree has been affected. 

“It makes it harder to discuss with the class,” Negrette said. “Only one person can talk and it can be hard to figure out when someone wants to speak. Also, added screen time tires me out more.” 

Sophomore Marian Ledesma added, “For one, it’s a lot harder to wind down from the day without seeing friends or hanging out with roommates. I also find it difficult to transition between classes and stay organized. Since I’m taking all of my classes in the same environment, a lot of class material starts to blend together.”

Technical difficulties

With our education based solely online, new obstacles have been placed in front of students. Senior Josh Nyberg discussed the wifi difficulties living with two other students. 

“With a house full of college students that have nearly the same class routine due to being student athletes, it has made listening to a lecture more complicated than it should be,” Nyberg said.

Students have to navigate all sorts of obstacles to get the education they paid for this year, especially with these new factors. These past six months, the APU community has had to choose if their degree is worth the cost of the stress on their finances, jobs, family and their mental health. While APU students are processing these heavy questions, is the school truly doing everything they can to give their scholars a return on their investment?

I understand that we should not return until it is proven to be safe enough, but I have concerns for what our education will look like in the future. It is hard to see how our school will go from fully online to in-person within a semester. That being said, I think our school should be looking for more ways to improve this style of education for next semester — if not, we could see serious consequences at our university.