Opportunity knocks via the internet. For college students in 2018, internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for success. As a university junior involved in the broadband industry, I have witnessed the impossibilities of college when a student is without consistent high-speed internet.
Digital Inclusion Week (May 7-11) provides an opportunity to remind everyone that limited connection inhibits the student from the beginning. College, scholarship, and internship applications are mostly online, with few accommodations for those without access. The difficulty of the disconnected doesn’t end there.
As each student progresses through their coursework, classes become more difficult and rely on online capabilities and research. Broadband (high-speed internet) is even listed as a requirement for most courses.
Colleges and universities attempt to reconcile the gap between those with and those without internet, but this gap is ever-growing. Larger institutions have the financial ability to provide libraries and computer labs for students that may not have access at home. Unfortunately, this does not reach the rural, non-traditional (defined as those over age 24), and working students. These scholars are left to fend for themselves and seek out external options.
Students face the dilemma of choosing between internet access, which is oftentimes expensive, and the quality of their studies. Affordable internet access can greatly impact the potential of not only college students, but learners of all ages. Broadband opens doors to an exponentially higher number of opportunities and it allows students to pursue infinite options for their futures.
The bottom line: students need the internet in order to have full access to their lives. They become more disadvantaged the longer they go without internet connectivity, but remain overlooked by broadband agencies. Digital Inclusion Week is coming to a close, and it is time for college students to be included. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
About the Author: Madelynne Garnett is the Human Resources Intern for Connected Nation. Madelynne supports human resources through data entry, employee relations, and employment exit and entry processes. She also assists Communications with blogs and project management. Madelynne is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Management at Western Kentucky University.
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