Disclaimer: This piece was based on an opinion that was held before the Nov. 12 changes were announced in which the West Chester University grading policy would be changed. Read more about these updates on our website: https://wcuquad.com/6017669/news/original-alternative-grading-policy-now-adopted-to-2020-21-academic-year/
With the sudden change of ending the 2019–2020 school year online, students hoped that the 2020–2021 school year would be different. When West Chester University’s president, Christopher M. Fiorentino, made the decision in early July to make the switch to online learning, students were instantly in distress. This decision stimulates stress and anxiety to students around the classroom and in their school work.
Online learning aside, the pressure that college level classes have put on students has greatly increased. Imagine America research shows that 35% of college students struggle with mental health problems. An increasing 64% drop out due to these issues.
In recent studies from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the change of mental health issues from pre-COVID to now has increased by almost 20%. From the start of the pandemic, the rate of depression in college students has greatly increased. Studies have shown that students’ mental health has been influenced by numerous things during this pandemic. This includes fear and worry about their own health and of their loved ones, difficulty in concentrating, disruptions to sleeping patterns, decreased social interactions due to physical distancing and increased concerns on academic performance.
In regards to helping students with this, many college campus facilities have been more aware of the issue and are willing to help students.
Many students at West Chester University have fallen victim to stress and anxiety brought on by the use of online learning. Kayley O’Leary, a junior middle grades major here at West Chester University, admits to being a victim to this outbreak of mental health issues brought on by online learning. For many education majors, participating in the field is essential for beginning your career. Due to this, O’Leary struggles with stress now due to COVID restrictions: “I was supposed to get hours in the field this semester, but since schools aren’t in person, I couldn’t go in and observe in person classrooms. So it kind of put a delay on my major and gaining the experience needed. Teachers are also struggling to figure out online schools and having someone like us observe or try and teach online is putting stress on them too.”
Along with the decrease in field work, O’Leary says that the use of online classes also puts stress onto her classwork. Taking six classes this semester, she admits that being anxious and having online classes have made her lose motivation in learning. Not only has this affected her learning methods, but her grades are experiencing a decline in performance.
The use of having class via Zoom is taking a toll to students and giving them a lot more anxiety than in-person classes. As a student, I feel as though it makes the class feel more awkward and tense and get anxious of being called out over camera. With the choice of having your camera off, it makes class less personable and makes it harder to connect to the class. This adds an immense amount of stress to me because of the disconnect and feel as if I am talking to strangers when we’ve been in school for over two months. If classes were in-person, I would be way more comfortable by now talking to professors and my fellow classmates.
As West Chester is about to enter another semester of online classes, students should be more aware of their resources on campus and learn from this semester on how to better their education.
Carly Hutter is a third-year Media and Culture major with a minor in International Business. CH916708@wcupa.edu
America, I. (2020, March 02). The Deteriorating Mental Health of U.S. College Students: Part I. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://www.imagine-america.org/deteriorating-mental-health-u-s-college-students-part/
Jahnke, A. (2020, July 09). In College Students, COVID-19 Has Increased Depression Rate and Raised New Barriers to Mental Healthcare. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/college-students-covid-19-increased-depression-rate-and-raised-barriers-to-mental-healthcare/
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Tompkins, A. (2020, September 24). College students are dropping out at an alarming rate. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://www.poynter.org/newsletters/2020/college-students-are-dropping-out-at-an-alarming-rate