COVID-19 and its Impact on Students

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, students have been removed from their campuses, forced to find somewhere new to live, and in some cases, are unable to return home. For many students, college is our life, and without the security of our schedules, housing and meals, we struggle on our own. Our studies are rigorous, and not everyone has the capacity to work while maintaining success in school. Nor does everyone have easy Internet access – especially Native American students returning home to a remote reservation community. About 20% of Native students on the reservations do not have computer or Internet access at home for distance learning, according to the American Indian College Fund. Students who were forced to leave campus need to figure out how to replace all the things school provided them – and quickly.

Now that our lectures have shifted to an online platform, our schedules are extremely malleable, our deadlines have softened, and our learning experience has changed for the lesser in some ways. What impact do you think it has for an engineering student to be restricted from hands-on learning? Or for a research student to not have a lab? Or a design student to not have access to necessary equipment? Our labs and hands-on work bring forth the better part of our learning.

On a personal level, I have been unable to conduct the in-depth amount of research needed for a design project that is due this semester, and it’s preventing my team from finding the information necessary for crucial design decisions. While we have found some workarounds, to say the robustness of the project will be seriously affected is putting it lightly.

When it comes to finances, many students are struggling from the impacts of COVID-19. While the government is delivering relief checks to a large portion of the U.S. tax-filing populace, many parents still claim their offspring until they are 24 years old – an age that most college students fall under. As a result, most students didn’t receive a COVID-19 relief check to help with the travel and relocation they were forced into, the leases they must still cover, or the food and other supplies they need now that they’re away from school.  In addition, being forced to leave the state where you attend school can disrupt residency status and have tuition implications if the disruption lasts long enough.

Internships are another aspect of student life greatly impacted by COVID-19. Many businesses across the country are now dropping staff, not to mention internships. For many students, internships are a source of income they rely on to help pay for college – myself included.

Beyond all of this, something students share with the general population is the feeling of isolation. Recently, I’ve had a hard time waking up in the morning and I’m noticing a feeling of grogginess and fatigue, which were symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency from not getting enough sunlight. Being in isolation doesn’t just impact our social life – it can affect our health, relationships and opportunities as well.

While I can’t speak for all college students, many of my friends are experiencing the same challenges and insecurities – and I haven’t even mentioned the implications of cancelled events such as graduations, organization inductions and cultural ceremonies. For many of us, March and April are just the tip of the iceberg.

While the coronavirus is affecting each student differently, the one commonality we all share is the impact it has on our education. I pray it lifts soon.

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