Students around the nation are struggling with the effects of COVID which has caused many to lose the “normal college experience” and face challenges of new learning environments and mental health issues.
The Columbia University Psychiatric Epidemiology group completed a study where over 36 percent of students felt as if their college experience was ruined due to the pandemic.
Over the past year that the pandemic has been surging, nearly two-thirds of all students have had to complete online courses which has made it exponentially more difficult for students to learn.
A freshman, Emily Stoner, who attends the College of Charleston said, “I think online school has made learning a little harder compared to in person, where there’s a lack of connection to a teacher or professor where you could ask questions or be provided with more clarity easier when in person”.
Many schools only provide online courses to help prevent the spread of cases around campus.
“Many of my classes are online, but the few that are in person have online options for people who feel uncomfortable to go to class,” said Stoner.
Students who want to go to their in-person classes are faced with a win-lose situation. They can go to class and receive a better learning experience, but also must face the risk of exposure to the virus, or they could sacrifice their learning experience to stay healthy.
These hard decisions cause many students to deal with increased mental health concerns.
Advanced Digital Health and Open Science performed a study where 71 percent of students felt like their anxiety, depression, and stressed were all increased due to COVID.
During COVID many students felt alone because it was difficult to go out in social settings and make new friends or find new hobbies.
“It’s become harder to make friends and socialize in fear of the virus and has created overall a lot of sources for anxiety and self-isolation,” said Stoner.
Stoner also said that she felt “very wary” about going to social events outside of classes because she did not want to risk the chance of getting covid and having that intervene with her academic experience.
The study done by Advanced Digital Health and Open Science also found that 86 percent of students had decreased physical interactions due to the social distancing and isolation protocols put in place by the CDC.
Students who now are struggling with negative effects of COVID on their mental health may not want to pursue a higher education or feel like they don’t want to continue their learning.
The Lumina-Gallup group conducted a study on college students around the nation and found that half of students believe the new “normal” for learning will greatly affect their ability to get a degree and graduate.
Another study done by BMC Psychology found that 30 percent of students wanted to take time off to help loved ones and or themselves during the pandemic.
Stoner said that the College of Charleston where she attends school is about 8 hours away from her hometown and she wants to be closer to help her mental health and be able to have support through this tough time.
Learning experiences for all students have become significantly more difficult in the past year and it hasn’t been going unnoticed.
The National Associations of Student Personnel Administration CEO Kevin Kruger said that there is a “worrying trend” in college admissions as it has declined about 10 percent since 2019.
The decline in students attending college is due to students’ mental health, and their ability to learn in an online setting with little contact to people to stay healthy.
COVID has put a huge barrier on students and reaching their goals of completing a degree. Many students now face more mental health struggles and are unfortunately, not getting a “typical college experience”.