University campuses have changed a lot, and college students who’ve experienced at least a year on campus before the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc around the world can tell it better than anyone else. Life as a college student is hard under normal circumstances, but adding the pandemic in the mix has made earning a degree even more challenging for many young people.
Below are some of the most common problems college students have had to grapple with since the new semester began — the same problems that spring semester freshmen will likely encounter as well.
Conflicting Rules and Practices
Everyone knows by now the basic coronavirus prevention methods: avoid crowds, maintain a 6-foot distance (two arms’ length) between you and strangers, wear a mask whenever you’re out in public, wash your hands often with soap and water, and disinfect all new items you bring into your residence, including grocery items.
Of these rules, wearing a mask and physical distancing are the trickiest. Besides the fact that there are people who still debate the merits of wearing a mask, the enforcement of physical distancing rules is also inconsistent. Some campuses are strict about social distancing, but some establishments that the students frequent are not. Worse, there are students who disregard warnings and would host or attend parties. These events are often attended by students from other campuses and outsiders, making them high-risk places for coronavirus transmission.
Dorms Aren’t the Best Places for Social Distancing
The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill had been holding classes both virtually and in classrooms for the better part of 2020. By August, however, the school was forced to transition all classes to virtual one week after classes started because the number of students that tested positive for the virus increased. Many of them resided in dorms, which became the center of coronavirus clusters in many other universities.
The Cost of Education Remains Largely Unchanged
A sore point for college students and parents who financially support their children’s education is that most universities did not reduce their school and tuition fees even though the majority of classes are now online. Many find this unjust since schools are not spending much on electricity, maintenance, and other overhead costs.
Pandemic or not, students will always be partial to an affordable university or college that offers the program they want to major in.
Not All Have Reliable Internet Service and Computers
Many college students chose to move into dorms because the environment at home, in their own bedrooms, isn’t conducive for learning. The downside, however, is they have to bring their own equipment for studying and attending online classes. Internet is often readily available (most universities restrict students from using their own WiFi routers and access points), but the speeds vary. Additionally, with more students using the dorm Internet at once, the connection slows down. This can be a problem when attending live lectures. If the screen and audio freezes, students can’t rewind to catch what was said or shown on the screen.
Only Some Universities Hold Regular Swabbing and Testing
Campuses that open dorms require students to take a COVID-19 swab test first. If their results come out negative, only then can they be allowed to move into their chosen dorms. Some universities like Harvard and Yale implemented regular testing back in July and tested on-campus students every three days or twice a week. Since no law regulates the frequency of testing in schools, it is up to the university administration to determine how often or how many times it will test its on-campus population. The danger here is that students who are asymptomatic can roam the campus without anyone knowing. The less frequent the testing on campus, the higher the risk for infection clusters to appear inside the campus.
College students no doubt face more problems every day, whether they live in dorms, rent in-campus housing, or attend online classes from their parents’ home. In revealing them, school administrators can hopefully do something about the matter and help make learning possible for students even during the pandemic.