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Commuter students split on online classes

As the pandemic wears on, commuter students are divided on the idea of future online classes.

Staying on campus is not an option that every college student has. Despite the fact that Otterbein University has a student-run association and a commuter service to help students connect on campus, join organizations and stay informed about various topics, some students still struggle to keep up with their college lives because their home environment has influenced their school career and ability to come to campus.

According to EDUCAUSE, 14% of commuting students stated they preferred largely or entirely online courses in 2018. Of those students, about 20% worked 30 or more hours per week, 20% were self-employed, over 25% were married or in a domestic partnership and 25% were part-time students.

These same findings, however, suggest that outcomes such as graduation lag behind access. Despite the fact that many working commuter students would prefer not to attend class after work, pay for parking, or arrive early and wait for a face-to-face course, doing so may be a more practical alternative based on their academic goals.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has further pushed the need to make things easier for college students. A survey published by BMC showed that most online courses were well received by students, with 80% of those surveyed saying they desired to continue with some online instruction after the pandemic.

Nimco Awil, a sophomore Political Science, Criminal Justice Studies, and Global Politics major at Otterbein, claims that moving out of her house improved her situation.

“I’m a commuter and when I lived with my parents it was a hassle to study at home so the majority of my time I was at school. I have a very loud family and I can only study in quiet places so that’s a bit of a struggle and every time I’m home I never get anything done since someone always needs something from me,” Awil said.

Another Otterbein student has a different viewpoint as her home situation was not the primary concern.

“Sometimes it makes it hard to want to leave home because of the drive so whenever I want to study in the library but think it's too far I just decide not to,” Evelyn Grajales, a sophomore political science and history major, said.

As it takes Grajales 30 minutes to drive to Otterbein, she stated that if she is not on campus or in the library, it is usually more difficult for her to focus than if she is.

Institutions may have to consider the needs of commuter students when making plans to guide them through their college experience.

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