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National Guard student relied on online classes during pandemic

Fri Sep 11, 2020 at 01:10 PM

While Oakland University student Isaac Culos has taken online classes in the past, none of them were as important as the online classes he took this summer. 

“I am in the Michigan Army National Guard. My unit was the headquarters for all the troops that were moving throughout the state, setting up food banks and hospitals and doing testing,” said Culos, who is studying elementary education with an endorsement in Language Arts. He was activated to serve in an office role and without online classes, he would have had to stop taking classes and delay his graduation. “These next two semesters are the last of my undergrad, so if I wasn’t able to continue my courses during COVID, my graduation would’ve been pushed back.”

OU Services for Veteran, Military Students

Culos isn’t the only Oakland University student involved with the military. Oakland University is a recognized military-friendly school. In February, for a third straight year, OU received a gold ranking, the highest possible rating for veteran-friendliness from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. This acknowledges the university’s dedication to student veterans and dependents using G.I. Bill and other educational benefits. 

According to Lisa Hock, school certifying official in Veteran Support Services at OU, there are currently about 230 veteran or military-connected students working with her office for Fall 2020. Hock’s job is to work with the students to ensure their courses fulfill degree requirements and submitting the certification to the United States Veterans Affairs department. 

Veterans are students who have served as an active duty military member or National Guard soldier while military-connected students are those who have parents who served in the military and transferred their education benefits to their students. 

For some veterans and active-duty military members, online classes make it easier to obtain their degree, like Culos.

Opting for Online Classes

When Oakland University announced in March that all remaining Winter 2020 classes would be online, as well as all Summer I 2020 and Summer II 2020 classes, Culos said he wasn’t thrilled with the idea. 

“I wasn’t happy about it. I didn’t think I’d be getting the same quality of education that we get in person,” said Culos, but after the Winter 2020 semester ended, Culos said he was ready to face summer classes online. “It made me more confident because my professors were so responsive when we needed them.”

Culos has taken online classes in the past, but it’s not his preferred modality. 

“If given the choice between in person and online, I’ll almost always choose in person. If it is a general education class, or if I really can’t make the time, then I am ok with choosing online and I usually have a good experience. However, I think in-person is usually more beneficial. Again, though, OU’s professors did provide the best education they could, given the sudden circumstances,” said Culos. 

Culous said that he was able to complete his coursework even with his National Guard duties. Without online classes and a flexible work schedule, understanding Oakland University professors and his superiors in the National Guard, Culos said he wouldn't have been able to complete his courses.

For more information about Oakland University’s programs and services for veterans and military-connected students, visit the Veterans Support Services website.