The internet option is an important part of life. It is especially necessary for students, as many classes and assignments now take place online. Therefore, they need a solid internet connection both at school and at home. Previously, many students managed their school or college’s internet for the bulk of their work. However, when the COVID-19 made education go online, they faced many issues. Low-income students were disproportionately affected as they could not afford a decent internet connection. Most households have access to network services like Cox cable deals and internet. However, these low-income students do not have this access and suffer accordingly.
Therefore, governments, schools, and other organizations are working hard to offer this internet access. There are numerous programs and schemes out there to support this student segment. This way, low-income students can get their tasks done and be on a more equal level with their peers. They cannot currently do this with many of the existing alternatives out there. So, there is a need for more comprehensive internet accessibility programs.
Why public wiFi is not a good solution
Many people believe that public WiFi is a good option for low-income students. After all, they can go to the library or other such place to get their work done. Public WiFi is free and does not require any extra steps. Students can just connect to it and get to work.
However, the problem is that public WiFi is not a good solution at all. First of all, it has major data privacy concerns. As devices will be visible throughout the network, that leaves a lot of room open for hackers. This means that students can’t really trust public WiFi connections with their personal and financial information.
In addition, public WiFi connections often have much lower speeds than decent home internet connections. This means that students will have to go through much more hassle and still have to deal with slow internet. In addition, with pandemic lockdowns and safety concerns, it’s simply not safe for students to be out and about at all hours just to access the public internet.
Why mobile hotspots are not viable
Mobile hotspots are considered another alternative to home WiFi connections. However, these hotspots also have their own set of issues. First of all, they are not very steady and can’t support heavy tasks well. So, if students have to do tasks on tools like Google Docs where they need to stay online, this is not a good option at all. The signals will be erratic and prevent students from carrying out their work effectively.
In addition, mobile data has much lower limits than private WiFi networks. With how data-heavy online classes and task portals are, this data will run out quite quickly. Furthermore, it will be more expensive in the long run, as people will have to deal with overage charges. These data limits are not viable at all for online education, so mobile hotspots are not a good alternative for proper internet connections.
What challenges do students face?
Low-income students face a considerable number of challenges with the increasing push for online education. These challenges make it difficult for them to perform well at school and reinforce preconceived false notions about their abilities. Here are a few of these challenges.
First of all, low-income students simply can’t access the internet if they’re at home and do not have private WiFi connections. Often, even if they have these connections, they have the most affordable option possible, which might not be enough for their needs. In addition, they may not even have the devices necessary to access the internet. While school laptop programs aim to tackle this problem, there’s still a long way to go.
In most cases, low-income households simply can’t afford a decent internet connection. They have essentials like utilities and groceries to worry about. So, the internet is not high on their list of priorities. This means that students in the household do not have equitable access to the internet, and have to figure out how to get their work done. This leads to a disparity in results between regular students and low-income students.
Often, teachers need to communicate with students and their parents. They have to figure out how to bring out the student’s potential. In addition, parent-teacher conferences and interactions are important for the student to perform well at school. However, if the household does not have a proper internet connection, this communication cannot occur.
Affordable internet programs for low-Income students
There are a number of federal and state-supported internet accessibility programs all over the US. Lifeline is a federal program that helps low-income households access the internet. In addition, many schools and organizations are actively working towards affordable internet. and you should do your research and see what programs are available in your area. In addition, see what the eligibility requirements are, and then sign up accordingly.