When COVID-19 hit last March, neither colleges nor students were prepared for prolonged campus closures. In a span of less than a week, everything shut down and everyone’s lives were turned upside down. Many students are still in limbo about their education, financial status and worrying about friends, or family in the hospital dealing with this virus.
Students were forced to pivot between on campus and remote learning, evacuate their dorm rooms and navigate a high risk of exposure to COVID in traditionally crowded dorms and classrooms. Depression, stress and anxiety are hitting college students due to COVID. The pandemic put students in a unique position.
With the social isolation effort to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, colleges across the United States have closed their campuses. This has forced students to leave campuses, friends, classes and familiar routines. While many students may be happy to reconnect with family again, some have returned to abusive households or others to no home at all.
Emma Cato, a student majoring in theatre and minoring in music, mentioned that she has been able to spend more time with her family. On the other hand, her mental health declined. This is due to the long-lasting pandemic situation and numerous measures such as lockdown and stay-at-home orders. There are positives to this situation, but there are also negatives which kind of outweigh the positives.
Students are not ready to remove interpersonal communication, and this might be another reason for mental health decline. Students aim to communicate in person, and the majority of students learn better in person, than online.
There are some exceptions. For example, Caton stated that she felt like she was more productive in schoolwork.
On the other hand, Vannessa Kwok, an international student from Hong Kong majoring in music, felt she was less productive and motivated. Kwok and Caton both mentioned that they felt more anxious and depressed. One reason for this could be the long-lasting pandemic situation and onerous measures such as lockdown and stay-at-home orders.
Neither colleges nor students were prepared for the long-term effect of COVID. The pandemic and lockdown have brought on a sense of fear and anxiety around the world, especially for students. Students are stressing out about issues within their own families and in their education, which has taken a toll on their mental health. There are positives which Caton stated with spending more time with her family, but that is not the case for everyone.
Society is not ready to move fully online because students need social interaction with peers and teachers in person to succeed. Removing social interaction has heavily impacted student learning and building. This pandemic has caught millions of college students at their most pivotal moment in their personal, interpersonal, educational and pre-professional development.