Never in my life would I have thought I’d be part of an epidemic, much less a pandemic. It’s something you read in textbooks, something you see on TV in less developed countries or more populated areas. But in February 2020, the world came crashing to a halt as COVID-19 sent schools on lockdown, sending classes online. When spring break hit, I expected to let loose and have a little fun.
I didn’t expect to be locked in my house for over a month.
I am probably one of the luckier students―I had four classes this semester, two which were already online, and the other two were easy transitions. While that part was easy, there were other things I struggled with. I lost track of days, which in turn made remembering homework and online meetings difficult. I was used to working on homework in the Banner Newsroom at school or at one of my favorite coffee shops in Ames, so trying to be productive at home was even hard. I already struggled with learning online, so the added pressure of home only added to the pile-turned-mountain of stress weighing me down. Being at home also made me lose access to tools I needed for my Honors project, along with the multiple plans we had for Banner.
Beyond the current stresses faced, there were more troubling matters to face: My future. This semester was going to be my last semester at Boone DMACC, before I transferred to Ankeny to pursue a degree in graphic design and a certificate in digital marketing. I was going to get a job and also get access to work study, but when the lockdown began, those plans shattered. Even now, I’m trying to figure out how to step forward.
Having turned 20 last semester, I realized that as an adult, I needed to think about my future, and act towards it. During the Fall 2019 semester, I figured out what I wanted to pursue: Graphic design and digital marketing, all inspired from my work at Banner News. I knew I couldn’t complete my Liberal Arts degree before next Fall, and decided to take the step to right away move into the graphic design program, taking digital marketing classes (along with some leftover AAS classes) that I wanted to take. I started planning my next two years, from what classes I’ll be taking, to finances and getting a job, to moving to Ankeny.
But what if this is impossible?
With coronavirus, all my plans are on standby. As mentioned before, I don’t learn well through online classes, and prefer to avoid them for classroom settings. For a while, I thought the virus would only last through spring and possibly go into the summer. With spring semester ending, and the situation not ebbing away fast enough, I worry about what the Fall semester might look like. I can’t afford to put a dent in my GPA or be able to pay the extra online fees. With graphic design having a lot of coursework requiring software and programs I don’t have the access or money for―I won’t be able to start my degree unless this situation is over, or at least DMACC was reopened.
I’m not the only student worrying about this. All programs and degrees requiring more hands-on experience or even just students needing face-to-face learning will suffer. This is a dire situation that is affecting every single part of all lives, from work to education to physical and mental health. As the COVID-19 continues to prove a hazard, DMACC will need to be making decisions to help their students. While keeping students online helps with social distancing and the health effort, it will cause students who don’t have the materials, money, or mindset to be able to work online to falter in their education.
Some ideas DMACC could potentially do are offer more hotspots for students who don’t have access or the money for wifi. For students who don’t have computers, maybe making laptops rentable or lowering prices can help students who require that hardware for school. A lot of what DMACC can do has to do with lowering prices, but again this is a tough thing to do when the school has to keep itself running during a time where income and keeping up certain functions isn’t stable.
DMACC has been a great support for me, through my education and my personal life. Being a part of DMACC Banner News has created a platform for me to learn and express myself, as well as a way of meeting new people and discovering more things in the world. As this pandemic “rocks the boat”, I know I can lean upon my connections here at Banner News and DMACC as I continue my education. So in the end, I know we’ll be seeing DMACC take more steps in order to help students like myself and others in the future.