By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
The coronavirus pandemic created unprecedented challenges for college students in 2020. Students at traditional brick-and-mortar schools experienced many unexpected changes such as safer-at-home restrictions, school closures, increased health risks due to the pandemic and changes in family routines.
Brick-and-mortar students were likely first affected by school closures in March of last year; those who have returned to campus this fall have likely found new safety protocols in place on campus, such as required mask usage and social distancing. These changes can be distracting and can increase stress beyond the normal angst of studying for a degree.
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, 81% of college students have reported experiencing coronavirus-related anxiety. Unfortunately, this pandemic-induced stress and anxiety coupled with students’ or family members’ health problems can result in a struggle for them to complete their education and enter a job market where more than 18 million Americans have been out of work due to the pandemic.
The Challenges Experienced by College Students due to the Pandemic
A survey by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation found that about half of undergraduate and graduate students surveyed think it’s likely that the coronavirus pandemic will negatively impact their ability to complete their academic program. In addition to affecting current college students, the coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on college enrollments.
The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and the American Council on Education conducted a survey of over 2,000 currently enrolled college students to determine the impact of the coronavirus on college students. The study found that nearly one in five students was uncertain about re-enrolling in the fall term or was definitely not going to enroll at all.
Another challenge resulting from the pandemic is a misconception about online learning. Students who were attending traditional brick-and-mortar colleges before the pandemic and then quickly had to transition into online learning did not have a good experience. This occurred because schools that don’t typically offer quality online courses were forced to quickly use Zoom and other TV-like media to deliver course content.
Learning from a University that Provides Quality Online Education Is a Smart Way to Earn a College Education
Online learning from a university that understands the learning needs of online students and offers a quality online learning platform is an excellent way for both traditional and non-traditional students to earn an education. The advantages of online learning include the ability to attend class from any location that has internet; also, online education is far more affordable compared to traditional learning because expenses related to student transportation, meals, and on-campus housing are eliminated.
Another advantage is that online learning platforms serve a variety of learning styles. Course content is delivered in various ways to serve visual learners and auditory learners. Videos, PDF documents, collaborative asynchronous class discussions, podcasts and recorded lectures can also support students involved in online education.
Students Need to Research Schools Because Not All Online Offerings Are the Same
Of course, not all online course offerings are the same. Students need to research online schools to find one that has experience delivering online courses. This should be coupled with high-quality online instructors who are experts in their field and in delivering online content.
I completed both my undergraduate and graduate education online. I completed my master’s degree at American Military University because I found that AMU had an experienced online learning program and provided instructors who were experts in their field. In addition, AMU provided academic support to help me succeed.
Online education is a great way for students to continue working toward a college degree during the coronavirus pandemic. It offers some protection against the illness because students can complete their work at home. In addition, online education is an excellent way for working adults and students who are balancing multiple responsibilities, such as a family or serving in the military, to further their education.