Covid has affected the lives of most people, including college students. With classes going online, it has been difficult for many students. Even before the pandemic, many college students were having a hard time trying to finish college and earn their degree to due financial and mental health barriers that have prevented them to do so. However, the pandemic has heightened many of these issues. According to the Hope Center, nearly 3 in 5 college students are facing basic needs insecurities due to the pandemic. In a two-year college, 33% of students have lost their jobs and 32% have had their hours reduced. In a four-year college, 42% of students have lost their jobs and 28% have had their hours reduced. College students have also reported a decline in their mental health. The NBCI reported that out of the 195 students they surveyed, 71% indicated an increase of stress and anxiety due to covid.
I have interviewed four students of different ages, backgrounds, and colleges. Two of them were students at a two-year college and the other two attend a four-year college. They have all been affected differently by the pandemic. All of the interviews were conducted through the phone or zoom. Due to confidentiality, I will be changing the name of the college students I have interviewed.
Mark: The first person I interviewed was a student at Community College of Philadelphia that was majoring in Cybersecurity. Mark is 40 years old with a wife and two dogs. Due to covid he lost his job as a waiter and has been relying on his stimulus checks to help him get by. Unfortunately, Mike had his financial aid revoked due to dropping a class in the summer. Because of this, he has to pay for college out of pocket. When asked if the pandemic has affected his ability to pay, he stated:
Well, now yea because the $600 is gone and I think I’m wrapping up two more checks from unemployment left. So yea I’m a little stressed out about how I am going to pay for next semester and how I am going to enroll in the class that I dropped for next semester.
Online classes have also been much harder for Mike to follow, causing his grades to go down. Before the pandemic, he had a 3.75 GPA. He has always done well in his class and never failed a class. However, he stated that this semester he is failing another class. He has also noticed a big difference in his mental health.
I was much better when I worked full time and took classes full time. I did better. I guess it’s just a sense of unworthiness that I cant work. Again going to class or a hybrid was much better because I can actually learn and question the teacher and my peers. The most interaction I have is walking the dogs to the dog park and I don’t do that as often because of the spike. I guess it’s monotony just drives you insane.
Elijah: The second person I interviewed was a Temple student who is currently a junior and majoring in Architect. Elijah is 20 years old and is living on campus as a RA. Fortunately for him, he did not have any financial issues during this time. He has, however, noticed a difference in his overall mental health. The lack of social interactions with friends and classmates have made it the semester difficult for him. Some of his friends have been tested positive for corona so it has made it hard especially hard to see them without there being a covid scare. Elijah called the lack of social interactions to be depressing. Covid has also made it more difficult for him to focus during online classes. A common issue that would frequently appear with all the students I have interviewed, included k-12 and college students, would be the lack of motivation during online classes. Online classes have caused many other students along with Elijah to feel less motivated in school. Some of his classes are labs and are long. He would have to sit for hours on zoom sessions. In the interview he stated:
So I only have 4 classes and it’s boring and being on zoom is not fun. In one of my classes, I have three times a week from 1:40 to 5:10. That’s my studio and it’s kinda ok because it online and I can leave early but I wish it was at the studio because I can stick around and do dumb things with my friends. And my 5:30 class on Mondays and Wednesdays ae hard to be engaged because I am in zoom all day, I just don’t feel like paying attention. If I am not in person I don’t feel inclined to pay attention. It’s a lack of motivation and work keeps piling up.
Zayn: The third person I interviewed was a CCP sophomore that is majoring in Sound Recording and Music Theory. Zayn currently lives with his dad and younger brother. Unlike the other students that I have interviewed, he has decided to take this semester off because of covid. The transition from going to in-person classes to online classes did not seem like it would have been an easy transition. He also felt as if online classes were less about gaining knowledge and more so just passing. Even if Zayn wanted to continue with the semester and not take off, it would have been difficult for him to do so because he lacked the resources he needed to complete inline learning. Zayn did not own a computer or laptop. On his semester break, Zayn was working as a delivery driver at a small pizza shop. He used this money to buy his computer and other equipment he needed to continue with college. Zayn was also having a hard time during the pandemic. He stated that because of covid he “did not have the luxury of a day to day monotony.” It was difficult for Zayn to find a job, a lot of businesses and places were shut down. The jobs that were available did not fit his schedule. Zayn taking a semester off will cause him to graduate later than planned.
Because when the pandemic first started the transition to online schools wasn’t smooth. A lot of my teachers didn’t do the same thing a lot of them didn’t do any zoom classes. I couldn’t do just lectures all day. Like a straight class to going to canvas every day and just looking at a page of texts and answering questions. It just wasn’t working out. And at that time I didn’t have a computer so I wasn’t prepared.
Covid has affected many people. For college students, it has made it harder for them to academically, financially, and mentally. Many people, like Zayn, have decided to take time off from school, causing them to fall behind and graduate late. Many students that I have interviewed have mentioned they felt less motivated in their academics. Even the high school students that I have interviewed said they felt less motivated. Many students have also been struggling financially to pay for college.