College + Pandemic = Intense Stress

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some students were entering their first years of college, whereas others were finishing out their final years of college. One thing that every student has to have in common during these unprecedented times is that we have no idea what we’re doing. To be honest, this unpredictability surrounding one's college years did not only stem from the pandemic, but from the pressures of going to college alone.

Personally, when I started applying to colleges I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to major in. I had a passion for all aspects of marine biology that stemmed from my childhood, and I knew that it was something that I wanted to potentially pursue in the future. When choosing the schools that I wanted to apply to, I had to switch up this initial thought that I had for my intended major. The chances that I’d apply under the same major for each school I was applying to was slim. Quite honestly, applying to my “dream school” but not under my “dream major” was something that I knew was going to happen. North Carolina State University does not have a marine biology program, so personally, I knew that I would have to take a different route if I ended up choosing NCSU. 

But why is there so much pressure surrounding the major, school, and path that one takes during their college years? How can someone know around the mere age of eighteen years old the path they want to take that will influence the rest of their lives? These pressures can intimidate a lot of students, rightfully so. These questions and conflicts of planning a future for oneself have only intensified with the pandemic that has shaken the world.

The pandemic has challenged students, professors, and staff at colleges around the world to come up with a new format of the once known college lifestyle. Instead of attending in-person lectures with a professor and potentially two hundred other students, now classes have been transitioned fully online with the use of Zoom. This shift is something that no one could have seen coming, and one that has hit a lot of individuals significantly hard. Trying to balance the newfound reality during this pandemic, on top of continuing with these college-leveled courses can be extremely difficult. This shift to a fully online experience of college is grueling and many students feel that we cannot learn in this type of environment for much longer.

Although classes have been shifted online to ensure more safety for students and staff, new problems continue to emerge with the change in format. Now that things are almost 100% virtual, students are more likely to be expected to attend lectures and make sure that assignments get turned in on time due to the “luxury of the formatting.” This miscommunication between students and their professors is something that I feel has really come forward since the shift to online classes. The now common assumption that the online classes are easier to navigate and keep up with is extremely negative and deadly.

I know a number of students that do not respond well to this online format of classes. It ultimately forces students to not be interested and interactive with their classes. Instead of planning out one day to wake up, eat breakfast and walk to their classes, now students can simply roll out of bed and turn on their computers to get to class. This shift has diminished students' involvement and interaction with their classes, that are being paid for let me remind you.

College is already stressful enough, and this pandemic has heightened those stress levels immensely. Trying to navigate the stressors of the pandemic on top of college-level coursework has been a personal challenge, and one that I know a lot of students have had to manage as well. No matter the pandemic or uncertainty in one's career, we must continue to remain resilient and optimistic about the future of college in these uncertain times.