Online only is opportunity for some

The McCutcheon family.

Castleton University seniors Brenden and Laura McCutcheon recently packed up their family in Vermont and relocated to North Carolina.

It was a move made possible by the university opting for all online classes as a result of Covid-19. While some students are upset by the decision to have online only studies, it’s providing opportunities too.

“We were excited to be able to start our lives and being online gave us the mobility to do just that,“ Brenden said.

For the McCutcheon family, classes taking place online has allowed them to start their next chapter in life.

“One of the things that was really wonderful when we first heard Castleton was going online was the opportunity to move forward with our life plan. We were waiting until after graduation in December to sell our house in Vermont and move down to North Carolina for careers. Being online let us do that a semester early… We were able to take our time, buy an apartment, get our daughter enrolled in school and have time to hang out as a family,” Laura said.

Virtual classes allow students to take advantage of the free time on their hands. For some, this free time comes from no longer needing to commute to campus.

Katie Saunders, a senior at Castleton University, lives in Bennington, Vermont. Saunders would have faced over an hour commute each way to her class on campus. Now, she is able to fill her time doing things she enjoys.

“By going all online I’ve been able to really tailor my schedule to what works best for me. Since I only have to meet for class via Zoom, I can determine what my schedule is. It has freed up more of my time so I can work and earn money, workout, and enjoy the outdoors more frequently than I would have been able to with the tradition in-class setup,” Saunders said.

For professor Alicia Gram, 2020 is her first-year teaching at the university. With courses being all online, Gram was able to take a job at Castleton and teach from her own home in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Traditionally, Gram would not have been able to commute to Vermont for courses. In fact, Gram has only visited Vermont a handful of times in her life. When asked about how the first few weeks of classes at her new school were going, Gram spoke about differences she’s seeing between CU students and those she has taught in big cities.

“I’ve had two recent college experiences; one in Boston at Emmanuel College and most of the students that I have had that go to Emmanuel live in the Boston area. You bring a different set of things to the classroom, which I am enjoying. You are very diverse,” she said.

The year 2020 has been a roller coaster filled with ups and downs, throwing people’s worlds all out of whack. For Gram, the pandemic and online CU studies provided an opportunity, but she does want to see campus.

“Castleton seems very serene and beautiful and a place I would love to go to. I hope when this is all over, I get to come up and visit when I can start traveling again,” she said.


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