Challenges of Online Learning

The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic caused significant limitations or educational organizations; specifically, multiple colleges, schools, and universities switched onto an online mode. These days the educational systems are quite elaborate; thus, not each student can perceive its programs, especially, it is complicated for those who are non-resident (Calma, 2020). As a result, they are challenged by online learning because of the language barrier, lack of resources and support.

The pandemic makes it difficult for international students to adapt both at school and home. It is especially critical for refugee students who have poor language skills. They claim that the main disadvantage is the language barrier, which does not allow them to perceive the material. Since online programs like Zoom or Microsoft Teams tend to lag due to poor communication, the professor’s speech becomes barely distinguishable. Therefore, such classes differ from offline ones where a teacher could explain some new notions. International students notice that the language barrier is the main reason they do not quickly get involved in the process (Harper, Zhu, and Kiyama, 2020). Consequently, these circumstances make them feel unsure, and they cannot deal with pressure.

Despite the fact that new online educational programs try to serve every student equally, the problems associated with providing support remain noticeable. The new online apps have successfully managed the process of adapting to online lectures and seminars, while they still cannot process submission documents (Halkic and Arnold, 2019). In addition, no individual educational assistance is provided during online courses (Moody, 2019). As a result, while international students fail to enter different college and university programs, institutions lose the talents and diversified perspectives these students can offer.

Another major issue connected with online education first-gen students encounter is related to accommodation. When entering educational organizations, many international students choose to live in the dormitory as they merely do not have any other place to live in (Fischer, 2019). Once the coronavirus cases gained momentum, institutions evicted their students to avoid any risk. As a result, refugee families had to have additional expenses for accommodation. Besides, they have to maintain themselves financially and keep on studying.

Apart from the lack of financial resources, the first-generation student may experience a digital gap. They tend to have less access to fast internet connections or acquire devices necessary for online classes (Fischer, 2019). Moreover, some mention that some programs are not free of charge and they have to buy them paying their own money. The other problem is that they lose the opportunity of practicing their skills in familiar surroundings. For instance, nurses spent much time with real people in clinical settings; however, they deal with simulated patients.

In conclusion, it seems reasonable to state that the global pandemic has caused numerous difficulties in various life spheres. Educational systems did not stand aside and were forced to switch to online mode making international students’ lives more complicated. Due to the language barrier, lack of digital and financial resources, and support, first-generation students and their families are still struggling to find ways of receiving a high-quality education.


Calma, Justine. 2020. “Going Remote Makes It Harder for Colleges to Reach First-Generation Students.” The Verge. Web.

Fischer, Karin. 2019. “Covid-19 Robs First-Generation Graduates — and Their Families — of a Meaningful Milestone.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web.

Halkic, Belma, and Patricia Arnold. 2019. “Refugees and Online Education: Student Perspectives on Need and Support in the Context of (Online) Higher Education Learning.” Media and Technology 44 (3): 345-364.

Harper, Casandra, Zhu, Hao, and Judy Marquez Kiyama. 2020. “Parents and Families of First-Generation College Students Experience Their Own College Transition.” The Journal of Higher Education 91 (4): 540-564.

Moody, Josh. 2019. “What to Know as a First-Generation College Student.” U.S. News. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Challenges of Online Learning." October 10, 2023.