How Online Learning Can Benefit Students with Chronic Health Issues

online studying

Candy de la Garrigue enjoyed a fulfilling, lucrative career in telecommunications until a sneeze changed her life.

She threw out her back when she sneezed, sending her on a path that ultimately led to a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease and a permanent disability. Unable to work, de la Garrigue didn’t know what to do with herself. “I felt worthless,” the Oklahoma City resident said.

Then she discovered Ashford University, a place where she could earn her degree online and her physical challenges didn’t matter. She easily made connections with professors and classmates, many of whom also faced struggles.

It’s not surprising that de la Garrigue found so many other students in similar situations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 2 adults in this country suffer from a chronic health condition. An estimated one in four suffer from two or more chronic problems.

Ashford offers access

Even in an era when the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all public buildings be accessible, physically navigating a campus can be a challenge for some students.

At an online university learners can study from home, ensuring that everything they need to be comfortable as well as functional is close at hand.

The freedom from a set schedule and the flexibility to study when it’s convenient, or even do-able, is another benefit for students with health conditions.

Misty Manning has a rare and life-threatening condition that sometimes causes pain so intense “that it seems as though the pain is all that exists.”

Thanks to Ashford, Manning was able to earn first a Bachelor’s in Social Science and then a Master’s in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources Management. “If not for online classes, I would not have been able to obtain my degree,” the Kentucky resident said.

She found support, not only from classmates and professors, but also from the university staff. Her advisors would check in with her frequently, making sure she had any information she might have missed due to a health-related absence.

Ashford creates a path for all students with disabilities to seek accommodations they need to succeed, whether it’s additional time on assignments or course content in a different format.

The flexibility to succeed

Other students, such as Sommer Livingstone, find that the online format suits their learning style better than traditional lecture classes. She was able to connect with students online, something that social anxiety had prevented when she was a teen in public school.

After graduating from Ashford with a degree in psychology, Livingston found satisfaction in public service. “Attending Ashford has made my life more fulfilling and given me a higher self-esteem. I am proud of myself!” the California woman said.

No matter the physical challenge or chronic health condition, Ashford’s flexibility and access makes it easier for all students to earn a degree and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

Written by Ashford University staff

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