Going beyond the classroom means bringing the classroom experience home for many students this year.
For Gabriella Marsh, Lakeland College’s blended program delivery is exactly what she needs to accomplish her goals and take care of her family.
Currently a first-year business administration
diploma student, Marsh is majoring in small business and entrepreneurship. It is a program she has been looking at for a while with hopes of applying when the time was right. She already has an arts and cultural management diploma from another post-secondary institution and was looking to expand her knowledge.
“I wanted to explore more of the business side of the arts and cultural sector, rather than focusing as much on the non-profit side,” says Marsh, who hails from Meadow Lake, Sask. “When I looked into Lakeland’s program, it just felt like everything I was missing and needed to know.”
While some students reevaluated their post-secondary plans when the COVID-19 pandemic affected program delivery, for Marsh, the fact that the business program delivery would be primarily online was the deciding factor in applying.
“I wasn’t able to work because of COVID,” Marsh says. “My husband was diagnosed with Leukemia two years ago and was just finishing up chemotherapy when the fall semester started. With him being at such a high risk, it was actually better that classes would be online. I probably wouldn’t have been able to go if it was in person.”
Marsh applied with the expectation that classes would be online and ensured she set herself up for success before they began, setting aside the space and time she would need to dedicate to her schoolwork.
“Working from home definitely could have challenged my self-discipline,” she says. “But I still had expectations of myself. I was still using people’s time and paying for my education, so I made sure to manage my time and keep myself accountable. When you take classes online, there’s more responsibility on you.”
Marsh is thriving in her only studies and credits one particular factor with her success – setting up her own dedicated space to work from home.
“It was important to me that I made my space feel like somewhere I wanted to be for my classes,” Marsh explains. “I was able to set up a desk and create a calming space with art and other things I wouldn’t have had in an actual classroom.”
Marsh recognizes the hard work her instructors put in to make the unconventional classroom still feel like a comfortable place for learning.
“I wouldn’t compare it to a regular classroom, but I think the instructors have made it so easy to be comfortable in the online classrooms and still have a personal relationship. I can still talk to them, ask questions and get to know them. They’re open and friendly and really encourage communication. The whole program is definitely living up to my expectations.”
While Marsh is working on earning her diploma, her husband has made progress as well. He finished chemotherapy in October and they are looking towards the future together.
“Now he’s just mending,” Marsh says. “His body is healing and figuring itself again after being on medication for so long. We are past that point in our lives and focused on moving forward.”