COVID-19 Changes College Learning

COVID-19 has affected the way we live and interact with one another, from wearing masks everywhere, to changing work environments from in-person to Zoom calls. 

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center teams up with the education system to measure high school and college enrollment activity in the United States. Their most recent study published in December 2020, says, “public college enrollment (two-year and four-year combined), which enrolls 7 out 10 postsecondary students, declined by 4 percent or nearly 530,000 students this fall.”  

This drop includes a decline in freshman enrollment and two-year institutions, such as DMACCOne reason for this decline is the change in the college learning environment that has been forced to go online. Students have limited interest in learning online because most prefer an in-person learning experience and enjoy social interaction. Miranda St. Amour, who viewed the online study, mentions in her online article that “many students may enroll or re-enroll at a later time, we know that delays in enrollment and needing to stop out from higher education can decrease the odds that a student will ultimately earn a degree ocredential. In other words, a student’s motivation to go to college may decline and disperse by the time in-person class is back in session. 

Students who are still enrolled in college and making the best of online classes have different feelings about the way college is right now. Some students are adjusting nicely to the online courses and feel like their learning has not been negatively affected by the switch.  

Graphic Design student and a sophomore in her final semester, Amber Swinehart is one of those students who does not feel like her learning has been affected. Swinehart said, “I’m able to get work done quicker because I don’t have to drive around and go from building to building and stuff. I have the time to just do the homework.” 

Though some students may be adjusting well to the online learning environment, many are notGraphic Design student, a sophomore in her third semester, Brianna Keeney does not feel the same way as Swinehart. “I am not an online learner. I usually like hands-on activities, especially when I need to understand it to better myself, Keeney said. 

Online classes have added stress and affected the way Keeney performs on her assignments and projects. “Now that things are online, I’m like ‘I’ll do it eventually.’ and then the day comes, and I have to hurry up and just throw things together. Then it’s not as good as it could be, Keeney said. As a graphic designer, the work done in college is also the work put in portfolios to show potential employers for a job. Online learning could be impacting her future. 

There is one thing that each of these college students, and many others, have in common. They miss the college environment and the ability to socialize and interact with one another. Swinehart, who is an introvert, said, “It was good the first couple of semesters, then COVID-19 hit, and I was disappointed because I had made a friend group and all of a sudden we were all just on Snapchat and that’s the only way we can hang out and communicate. That was kind of disappointing.” No matter where students may stand on online learning in college, they all are missing out on something just as important—the ability to socialize and make friends that will last a lifetime. 

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