Keywords: education in pandemic; online learning; educational options; overcoming dropout and school failure; deciding your educational journey; older teens and young adults
Educators, parents, government officials as well as mental health and other professionals express concern over school closings because of possible impacts on students. Yet, many of these adults have recognized that school closings were necessary depending on the severity of the pandemic in their particular areas. Today, there is not only concern over mental health consequences, but the realization that disruption in education often leads loss in learning. While these are concerns that are pertinent for young children, they are also relevant to older teens and young adults. Studies had been carried out earlier during this pandemic to examine the effects of school closings on learning and they revealed mixed and sometimes uncertain results.
One thing is clear. Online learning provided the means for learning during this difficult period for students of all ages and many jurisdictions took the opportunity to use available technologies. With the pandemic still ongoing, there is still much learning that will be attempted. The degree to which this learning will be successful will depend on how consistently these technologies are used and the extent to which curricula are followed. It will take parents, educators, and other professionals working with students to achieve their goals.
Older Teens and Young Adults
While primary and secondary school students generally follow the prescriptions of their parents and educators, many secondary school and university students are at a stage where they could make their own decisions. While some are graduating and do not want to lose a year or two would readily follow up with the online offerings and prescriptions of their institutions, other students, especially at university, may see this online offering as an opportunity to increase their course load, if this is offered as an option. Other students may experience difficulty following up with their studies, because of their different learning styles. Having the right technology at home to continue their studies could also be a challenge for some students, whose institutions may be closed. Some students simply lose hope and drop out of school, something they may have been contemplating for some time.
But All is Not Lost
If you are a secondary school or a university/college student who is losing hope or who may already have dropped out of school, you need not give up. This is the time to see light at the end of the tunnel. There are many opportunities that are open to you to move ahead with your career, despite the fact you may have obstacles in the way and particularly at this time.
Options Open to You
If you are feeling somewhat discouraged now, think of the opportunity of learning online. If you are still in school and your institution offers continuing sessions, do not give up. Do the assignments and submit your work as required. If you have already dropped out of school, you would find that there are many opportunities for upgrading. For one thing, a search online would quickly present many opportunities for you to enroll and complete courses that would allow you to graduate from high school. Check for the different jurisdictions and organizations that offer these courses, and see which suits your needs best. Some are private schools and organizations and some are provided by departments of education. Choose an option and stick with it. If you dropped out of a course at college or university during the pandemic, check with your institution. You may be able to continue and submit missed assignments, but you may most likely have to re-register for the course.
One of the most important elements in continuing or beginning to work online is to be consistent in your efforts, knowing that you would not have the kind of support you would normally receive in an in-class setting. You would have to plan for your study time, and be consistent in keeping this plan. Failure to do this could mean that before long you may lose your momentum and would easily forget about the schedule you may have set for yourself. Therefore, in order to be successful in your online studies, you have to set up a schedule and keep to this schedule. This works whether you are an ongoing student or whether you are just starting out.
Set Up a Support System
You may know ahead of time that you may easily become stuck on the learning process. If this is your experience, and if you have had to stop or even drop out of a course, you need to set up a support system ahead of time. Find someone who would be willing to answer questions that you may find difficult or impossible to decipher on your own. With this support system available, strive to answer the questions asked in your assignment. When you are stuck or when you may feel completely lost, reach out to your support system.
Having a Tutor also Helps
Some students have tutors to whom they could turn. This may be a solution if you are taking specific courses, like Calculus, Mathematics, or other courses that require prior knowledge in which you may be week. Whatever your needs, there are tutors around that could help you overcome these obstacles. Be aware that tutors are often freelancers that charge a fee. Check out for a tutor you can afford and one that can really help you with your needs.
Having Persistence is a Necessary Advantage
Having persistence is also necessary for successful working online, especially if you have dropped out of different classes or courses before. Persistence is the ability to hold on or continue doing something despite the obstacles that occur. When you study a different subject, from time to time you may discover that it is difficult for you or you may become impatient that it is taking your more time than you want to spend on the subject. It is times like these that you need to put on your ‘persistent hat’, tell yourself that you can do it and that you will continue to the end.
Patience is a Virtue
Recognizing that most good things take time to materialize, you need to convince yourself that whatever you are doing will lead to even greater good. Although it seems to be taking long to achieve it, what matters is that once you have made this accomplishment, it would be there for all times. Completing your high school diploma, degree or certificate would mean that you have proof that you have reached the end of a course of study and you can move on from here. There are times when the diploma, degree or certificate is what you need for finding gainful employment.
Usually, You Need More than High School Education
This depends on what your choice of career involves. If you choose a career for which certification is necessary, the achievement of certification may seem like the end of the line. High school graduation is often considered the minimum qualification needed for employment, with a degree sometimes considered the starting point for some professions. Besides, even after achieving required qualifications, most occupations and careers require continuous learning. Employees in most occupations, careers and professions are required to engage in continuous learning. Taking continuous learning courses is often considered necessary for continued employment. Even without this requirement, it makes good sense for employees to keep monitoring their areas of expertise, for things are continually changing. Consider the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on many careers (See later post).
Chart Your Journey
In deciding to continue your educational journey, you are encouraged to decide what occupation or career you want to follow. This is key to determining what to study. If you are not quite sure, don’t panic. Start looking around at possibilities. What do you like to do? Make two lists of all the things you like to do and all the things that you can do. Draw lines between the two for possible ideas. If you choose an occupation of profession, know what qualifications are needed and what you need to learn to meet these requirements. While you may not want to follow a strictly academic career, there are numerous other paths to success. For more information, check out the following post on jobs and careers in the time of the pandemic.
Dhawan, S. (June 20, 2020). Online Learning: A Panacea in the time of COVID-19 Crisis. Journal of educational Technology Systems. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0047239520934018
Engzell, P., Frey, A. & Verhagen, M. D.) (April 27, 2021). Learning loss due to school closures during the VOVID-19 pandemic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of American, 118(17). Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/
Li, C. & Lalani, F. (April 29, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Retrieved from World Economic forum at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/