Going to Community College during the pandemic

Former Anoka-Ramsey student talks about the challenges of obtaining a two-year degree completely online


Campus Eye Staff

This photo of Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Cambridge, which the Campus Eye obtained from the Anoka Ramsey Community College website, has been authenticated based on its contents and other Campus Eye reporting.

Sara Ruiz Gonzalez, Contributing Writer

Paula Ruiz, 21, is a former Anoka Ramsey student who graduated from Anoka-Ramsey Community College with an Associate of Art degree in December 2021. She loves animals, outdoor activities, and spending time with her family.  

Ruiz moved to Minnesota in the summer of 2020. She chose Community College because of its affordability, and because it gave her the chance to try out different fields of study trough different classes, in order to find out what she liked the most.  

“At the time, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go” she explained. “I feel like [Anoka Ramsey] helped me a lot. I was able to find my career path”. 

Ruiz started at taking classes at Anoka Ramsey during the pandemic, which lead to all her classes being online. She explained how one of the biggest challenges that she faced because of online learning was managing her time and staying focus.  

“I was taking math classes that would require a lot of time and effort, and when you do online classes sometimes you tend to just leave it behind and not really focus. It was hard to stay on track” Ruiz added. 

At the same time, Ruiz didn’t get the chance to meet many of her classmates since the online classes don’t allow her to do so, something that she considers a disadvantage in online learning, along with the difficulties of communicating and interacting with the faculty. “It was challenging to get help from professors because they had so much on their plates” she said.  


During her time at ARCC, Ruiz joined the Latinx Club and Phi Theta Kappa, two organizations that helped her find people who shared her interests, whole also facing challenges caused by the pandemic.  

“Unfortunately, as a group we didn’t have the time to meet as often as we wanted” she said. Ruiz explained how online classes lead to students having flexible schedules at their workplaces, which can make it hard for groups and organizations to organize meetings and activities.  

The commencement ceremony for fall 2021 and spring 2022 students will not be held in person because of COVID-19. Instead, the students will receive their diploma via mail a couple of weeks after the semester was done. This causes students like Ruiz to not experience the excitement of a normal graduation. 

“I knew that I was getting my diploma because I got an email saying congratulations, but that was pretty much it. It didn’t really feel like a graduation” she said.  

On the other hand, having free time, being able to take her classes from anywhere, and manage her own schedule, were some of the advantages that taught Ruiz how to organize her time, motivate herself, and be responsible.  

“My time at Anoka-Ramsey taught me to be independent. It thought me that I can achieve anything I put my mind into when there are a lot of challenges in the way,” she said.   

She plans on going to the University of Minnesota to major in Animal science starting on Fall 2022.