Online learning disproportionately affects low-income students

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Now that the fall semester has begun, many students have transitioned to learning remotely. Everyone around the world has been facing the same set of challenges as they find ways to adjust to the new normal.

In regards to education, UH students have the option to learn either in-person or through an online format. 

That may appear as a manageable task, but not every student is exposed to the same type of resources.

For those who have a job that has provided them with a steady pay throughout this time or reside in a stable home with parents who have steady jobs, it may be easier for them to access high speed internet and technologies.

However, this does not apply to every student. Despite the pandemic impacting the world in its entirety, every individual is undergoing their own unique challenges.

For some, this means the inability to access learning tools such as a computer, printer or high-speed internet. Moreover, not all students live in an area with access to high quality internet. Owning these technologies is a sign of privilege, especially throughout this time.

It is clear that the extent of these struggles varies drastically among each population. Low-income residents already face a higher probability of unemployment.

A chance that has undoubtedly increased throughout this year. Meaning, individuals who reside in low-income homes may be at higher risk of unequal education access than their peers who live in stable homes.

Beyond other risks, unemployment can lead to unequal access to education, which can affect students academically and emotionally, especially at a time like this when everything is online. 

There are so many factors of this situation that one can dive into, but for now, the importance should be laid over students’ education and the guarantee of their success.

Moving forward, it is necessary to be aware of the challenges university students are facing and the initiatives that schools and universities are taking to assist low-income households. Chances are, there are many resources and programs available that many individuals may not know about.

If you are someone who has faced unemployment and is currently struggling to access certain materials, please look into the links below. 

On the other hand, if you are someone who has not faced this struggle and may have not even realized the impact online learning is having on low-income individuals, be encouraged to learn more and find ways to help those who are dealing with this situation. 

Empathize and be willing to help your peers succeed.  

Resources for UH students: 

Laptop Checkout: https://uh.edu/infotech/help/tech-commons/laptop-checkout/

Library Accessibility Services: https://libraries.uh.edu/spaces-tech/accessibility/

Library Hours: https://libraries.uh.edu/locations/anderson/

Marily Alaniz is a communication disorders junior who can be reached at [email protected] 

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