A LONG-AWAITED RETURN
Carolyn, a mom of two teenage sons, works full-time for the State of Utah government.
After over 20 years in the workforce, Carolyn decides to pursue her goal to finish an undergraduate degree in political science and ultimately a graduate degree in public administration.
Carolyn, her husband Mark, and two sons, Evan and Ryan.
Carolyn tracks her project meetings using a corkboard in order to organize her tasks and obligations
TAKING THINGS OFF THE PLATE
To focus on school, Carolyn considers taking a sabbatical from her job at the State of Utah, where she's been working for over 14 years.
"I'M A FULL-TIME MOM, FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE, AND A FULL-TIME STUDENT.
GETTING ALL THAT WITHIN TRADITIONAL HOURS IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE."
Carolyn completes her associate's degree at her community college. She's excited to transfer to the University of Utah to complete her undergraduate degree.
Carolyn's associate's degree from her local community college
THEN COVID-19 HIT.
Carolyn and her family on a trip to Phoenix
A FAMILY AT RISK
Carolyn, a mom of two, feels the fear that so many families across the nation begin grappling.
She's a cancer survivor, which presents her with auto-immune issues. Her husband has a congenital heart condition. On top of that, her husband's condition is genetic, which means her two boys are also at high risk. These factors combine to create an extremely stressful and challenging situation for Carolyn and her family.
A PRECISE JUGGLING ACT
Due to the uncertainty of the job market during the pandemic's accompanying recession, Carolyn decides against taking a sabbatical from work to focus on her degree. She continues to balance her family, work, and degree the best she can.
With her current obligations to her work and family, as well as her situation as a non-traditional student, living in a rural community, with an immunocompromised family, Carolyn's only option to complete her degree is to take asynchronous online courses.
Carolyn helps her son with homework while preparing dinner
"EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE SEEMS TO INVOLVE JUGGLING MULTIPLE TASKS AT ONCE."
A CHALLENGING RETURN TO CLASSES
Carolyn and her family face an extremely difficult beginning to their semester.
While swimming, Carolyn's husband, Mark, goes into cardiac arrest. Carolyn takes him to the hospital, and because of Covid-19 restrictions, she isn't allowed to go in and is forced to wait outside.
By the day classes start for her and her kids, Mark is still in the hospital awaiting surgery.
Carolyn with her husband, Mark
"BALANCING THE START OF SCHOOL, COVID, WORKING FROM HOME, AND HIS SURGERY WAS FOR SURE ONE OF THE MOST STRESSFUL THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE, BUT WE SURVIVED."
TO BE CONTINUED
THE ONLY OPTION
For many students, effective online classes are the only way they can reasonably continue their education. As Carolyn's story illustrates, this statement holds especially true for non-traditional students, rural students, and immunocompromised students.
Making the right decisions to support students now can shape a more equitable higher landscape for years to come.