How Connect-In-Place Bridges Educational Gaps

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on teens’ education and mental health. During the national quarantine period in 2020, a strong majority of teens reported feelings of anxiety, isolation and missing out on key life experiences. And nearly one-third of students said that the pandemic has disrupted their academic futures.

As the pandemic is still ongoing, its full effects on this generation of students is yet to be seen, but it is clear that it has posed them with a unique set of challenges and stresses, mostly as a result of social distancing and isolation.

Connect-In-Place was started with the intention of helping students learn, connect and socialize, even when they are unable to leave their home. It is a one-of-a-kind online education platform and virtual learning community that gives middle and high school students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn together in virtual classrooms led by volunteer college students at leading universities.

How Connect-In-Place Started

Connect-In-Place was founded amidst the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. Like many students all around the country, Sauma Goyal and Danielle Egan, then undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, found themselves taking classes not on-campus, but over the internet.

Goyal and Egan’s thoughts immediately turned to those younger than them – the middle and high school students whose educational and social experiences were upended by the global pandemic. Both had volunteer experience working on educational equality and were well aware of how the pandemic could exacerbate the educational class divide.

By June 2020, they had launched Connect-In-Place with the goal of helping provide students with access to a virtual learning community they could access outside of school. What started as a small idea quickly blossomed into an expansive program with over 500 classes, 500 instructors and nearly 5,000 students.

A Unique Educational Experience

Connect-In-Place gives students the chance to take a unique selection of classes that includes traditional homework help as well as out-of-the-box courses on topics like cryptocurrency, the making of Star Wars, and K-Pop costume design. 

Every session includes a new selection of courses taught by student teachers enrolled in universities around the country. Most classes are one-hour long and take place outside of normal school hours on weekday afternoons and weekend mornings.

In the summer of 2022, Connect-In-Place will be offering two four-week sessions from June 20 to July 10 and from July 25 to August 14.

In addition to these courses, Connect-In-Place also offers students mentorship opportunities. As part of its Fall Mentorship program, high school students are paired with college students for one-on-one advice on college applications, student life, majors and career decisions. 

Connect-In-Place also regularly hosts a variety of events that are open to all students in the program. These include career development and college preparation workshops, lectures with industry leaders, and fun social events. These events provide students a rare opportunity to connect with people they otherwise may not have met and to build their network.

Summer Internship and TA Opportunities for High School Students

Connect-In-Place welcomes high school students as summer interns and teacher assistants. 

As a summer intern, high school students work with select departments in the organization for nine weeks, starting on June 14 and ending on August 2. Applications for the Summer Intern Program are accepted until June 10.

The Teacher Assistant role requires students to help session leaders lead their virtual classes through Zoom and help each class session run smoothly. 

Volunteer Opportunities for College Students to Teach

Connect-In-Place is accepting applications from volunteer college students to teach during its second summer session from July 25 to August 14. If you are interested in teaching or simply passionate about a subject and want to spread your knowledge, join the Connect-In-Place team and create your own online learning community.

Interested students can apply through the Connect-In-Place application portal through June 20  at connectinplace.org/signup.

Follow Connect-In-Place on TUN

Students can also follow Connect-In-Place on TUN to get news and learn about new learning and teaching opportunities!

The University Network