As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, its negative effects are creating less-than-ideal situations for just about everyone. The push for social distancing has led to the cancellation of events, the closing of businesses and schools, and the looming threat of a recession. Perhaps no group of people have been impacted by this more than the almost 20 million students currently enrolled in U.S. colleges. From everyday classes to commencement ceremonies, every aspect of college life has been affected in some way.
The closing of colleges and universities has hindered the education of many students.
While most schools have made a transition to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester, not all students have the resources necessary to keep up with their work. On top of that, some subjects just do not transfer easily to virtual learning, making it hard for some students to continue to learn and progress. This could potentially lead to students having to be enrolled longer than they initially expected. As over two-thirds of college students already graduate with a large amount of student debt, it could continue to pile up and force some into an even deeper hole. Many students who relied on campus jobs to help pay their tuition are already in a difficult position as they face stresses similar to the more than 10 million people who have recently filed for unemployment. With all the uncertainty surrounding their future, schoolwork is likely the last of many students’ worries.
As schools began closing, it created a difficult situation for students as far as logistics go. Those who were on campus were forced to pack their things and evacuate immediately.
Meanwhile, those who were not on campus had a short window to retrieve their belongings before they were unable to. Many students who go to school far from home were unable to find a way to get home easily, which added to an already stressful situation. Some students relied on their dorms as their primary living space and had to rush to find somewhere else to live quickly. This has been especially difficult for more than one million international students, many of whom could not even get flights home because of certain travel restrictions or a lack of money. While some schools have made exceptions for those who struggled to find an alternative living situation and even offered refunds for room and board and parts of tuition, many schools have not been as generous.
Due to social distancing, all events for the foreseeable future have been cancelled or postponed. This has been especially devastating for college students, who are going to end up missing out on a lot of important moments. Campus activities such as sporting events, recitals, and art shows, which students have put so much time and effort into, are gone just like that. Even commencement ceremonies have been called off for the time being. Given the World Health Organization’s statement on large gatherings not being held again until the fall of 2021, it seems unlikely that they will be happening anytime soon. For many students, graduating college was never a sure thing, and many obstacles had to be overcome to get in that position, so this is a crushing loss for them.
There is no doubt that this situation has been stressful for all of us. As about 80 percent of college students have reported feeling stressed before the coronavirus pandemic, that stress has multiplied exponentially. All we can do at this point is wait it out and stay safe and healthy.