SUU Students Coping Anxiously With Pandemic

Published: November 18, 2020 | Author: Dr. Alan Hamlin and Dr. Steve Barney | Read Time: 3 minutes

How are university students coping with COVID-19University students are very much being affected by Covid-19, according to a recent survey of over 900 students at Southern Utah University. The survey was administered to students from late July to October 2020, covering both summer and fall semesters.

While much has been written about how the spread of the virus has affected administrators and faculty in carrying out their responsibilities, little has been done to evaluate the impact on students themselves. In this study, students were asked to provide their perceptions about how the virus was affecting their academic, financial, social, emotional and physical lives by answering 64 questions and providing narrative input. The results give reason for both hope and concern.

Since the Covid-19 virus began to spread rapidly last March, many universities in the state moved from live classes to remote learning. This continued in the summer of 2020. The impact on student perceptions about the quality of their education was significant. With respect to their academic lives, most students felt that their ability to reach their academic goals, their ability to learn course material, the overall quality of course instruction, their study habits in general, and their ability to communicate with instructors have all been somewhat to very negatively affected. Also they felt that their ability to communicate with their fellow students was seriously diminished, and that relying more on technology negatively affected their learning and comprehension.

Regarding college student emotional well-being, the impact of the pandemic has caused many college students to change their attitude about continuing their education (this finding is being validated by the reduced fall enrollment at universities nationwide, but not at SUU, where fall enrollment actually increased by 12%). From a social standpoint, many students felt like the canceling of live classes, together with the adoption of mask and distancing policies, has reduced their desire to continue their education. The virus has also changed how these young adults socialize with friends, date and even attend athletic and cultural events. They are using technology more than ever to socialize and communicate with others, even though they do not believe using this technology leads to stronger relationships than in-person interactions.

The pandemic has also affected the financial lives of college students. Many have experienced reduced wages, less work hours or have lost their jobs entirely. A majority believe they will have to work more hours in the future. They also worry more about how they will pay for rent or housing, health care and food than they did before the virus.

The bottom line is that college students in Utah appear to be under a great amount of stress and anxiety due to the coronavirus, and university actions to deal with it. Virtually all either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Overall, I feel like I am under more stress than before the pandemic started in early 2020.”

While most believe that, so far at least, they have been able to deal with these changes, they are worried and stressed about their futures. Many are having physical reactions to the stress, including losing sleep and gaining weight. They don’t trust the government’s efforts to contain the virus or communicate about it, yet they do believe that the university has done well in trying to be flexible and meet student needs, both educationally and with respect to their personal safety.

Tags: Management College of Humanities and Social Sciences Psychology School of Business

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