Four things we learnt from listening to over 200 college students
Students make up one of the most diverse groups in the world, yet often their opinions can be generalised into a stereotype of what society thinks they should be feeling. In order to really understand this vast and complex group of individuals, you must talk to them directly. And that's what we did, by listening to over 200 American College students. Here’s what we learnt:
1. Their education has been affected (but not as much as you might think)
The majority of students (six in 10) felt, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the pandemic has negatively impacted their own college experience and education. But despite this, most wanted their institutions to keep classes online and continue to enforce Covid-19 restrictions.
The good news? Students feel positive about the digital education experience, with 83% saying they would continue their course even if it went fully online.
2. Students are worried about their social lives, and you should too
Students are also seeing huge negative impacts on their social lives, with seven in 10 saying their social life had been negatively impacted by the pandemic. We know how important this aspect of college life is to students, and how crucial it is to how connected they feel to their school, so with a drop out trend predicted for the coming months, these struggles definitely need addressing.
3. They don’t feel secure
The response was clear; nearly half of students said they do not feel safe on their university campus due to Covid-19. When we asked each group why they answered this way, those who answered that they did feel safe told us it was because there was increased Covid-19 testing or that they had left campus altogether.
4. They're facing steep financial costs
The gap between class disparity has always been a concern in the education space, however when the emphasis of online learning during the pandemic, the gap has widened. The cost of steady wifi, laptops and anything necessary for online learning is a price too high for many, with research showing that students are having to front this bill themselves. How can universities help bridge that gap ensure that digital poverty is not a barrier to a great number of students and a reason to drop out, through bursaries, loans or simple emphatic support?
So what next?
The problem here is, no one knows. Insecurity, doubt and lack of clarity on their future were the overarching themes throughout every answer. Top that with a looming presidential election, which has never had such polarizing candidates, and future and current students and institutions alike have no idea what their next steps should be.
Coupled with increasing educational inequality, the costs of education and study, the complexity of furloughed and out-of-work guardians, an uncertain job market and the decimation of the gig and service industry, many students and prospective students from low income households face uncertain times.
How you can help
Now, more than ever, educational institutions need to help guide and steer your students' futures.
Reassure them in their choices, but give them the confidence to adjust their life if needed. Keep the lines of communication open, using your student data to inform tailored, personalised messages of support, guidance and inclusion. Most importantly, being able to adapt to an ever-changing and confusing situation.
Allowing students to adjust their course load, the timing of their assignments, their tuition payment schedule, or their mode of instruction could allow them to adapt to changes in their personal environment and minimise the disruption to their education as the pandemic progresses.
For more insight on how students are really feeling and strategies to help you navigate through the pandemic, get in touch with our experts today.