Opinion | Put prerequisites online

Due to the vast number of people staying home and attending classes remotely, there is no reason why prerequisite classes can’t have online discussion sections.


Hannah Kinson

Photo Illustration by Hannah Kinson

Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

There is no denying it. Because of COVID-19, almost every student’s schedule has changed. Classes shifted online, were canceled, or switched professors, and everything is not the way it was prior. Which, in some situations, is understandable due to all of the precautions that the University of Iowa is taking. But I do have an issue with my schedule.

Prerequisites are the bane of college students’ existences. Sometimes they are enjoyable, but other times, they are a class you have to take before you can enroll in the really unique and interesting classes down the line.

As the coronavirus runs through Johnson County with around 2,389 positive cases total, many students are staying at home. Home may be their parent’s house in Iowa City or Madison, Wisconsin or even as far as another country.

Thanks to the UI’s temporary alternative learning arrangement process, students can earn help with organizing their courses if their case is accepted by Student Disability Services. However, not every need can be met.

The SDS website lists options for removing or modifying less critical course content as some of the options for students who are approved for alternative learning arrangements.

I, however, cannot agree with the fact that some classes do not have an online format to help students who cannot make it to campus reach the next step in their progress toward their degree. If that class cannot be taken this semester, it will be pushed back another semester, sometimes the whole year if the class is not offered in the spring semester.

This issue holds a special place in my heart because I am one of those students. I have a prerequisite class that needs to be taken this semester, or I get held back a semester in one of my degrees. I cannot take another class to fulfill the same part of my degree; I can only fulfill other areas that do not help me unlock my future classes.

While the lecture is online, the small, 17-person discussion is not. No matter what the accommodation is, meeting in person cannot be completely safe.

I have to decide between hours traveling to and from Iowa City twice a week or drop the class and lose the credits.

So, I will be driving in the family van from Madison to Iowa City, a three-hour long car ride, in the wee hours of the morning, to walk on campus for one class. In the evening, (because I do not have enough time between classes to travel home unless I want to miss other classes) I will travel home and potentially expose the rest of my family. My elderly father, my immunocompromised mother, and my middle school sister who might be going back to in-person school in a month or so.

I am lucky to live close enough to drive. I have friends who live out of state — some across the whole country — who had to make the same sacrifice and are not taking their classes because they have no way of making it to Iowa City for one class.

So please, UI, I am begging you. Make prerequisite classes, in all majors, online this semester and all semesters affected by COVID-19. If we are already making the classes online later in the semester, make them online sooner than later so students can still get their education in a timely fashion.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.