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How college students are affected by Covid

By: Kylie King

Photo by: Dusan Stankovic/Getty Images

College students around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but two psychology majors at Salisbury University and Regent University, have made the most out of the pandemic in order to succeed in college.

Sydney Collins, a psychology major at Salisbury University, was in their freshman year of college when the shutdowns first began.

The initial outbreak of Covid began during Collins’ second semester. The psychology major said that they went on spring break and did not go back.

The transition to at-home learning was not an issue for Collins, as they commuted to school only a few times a week prior to the pandemic.

“I was used to working from home, so when the pandemic hit it wasn’t too much for me,” Collins said. “Besides, the following semester I was able to go back on campus, for at least once a week.”

As many students have, Collins made their bedroom a workspace. Considering the quickness of the shutdown, Collins did not have much time to prepare a proper space to do homework.

“I work mainly in my bedroom, I have a small desk to do any physical work on and I sit on my bed to write papers and attend my Zoom classes,” Collins said.

The homework load didn’t change drastically, as much of it was already submitted via online.

Though homework seemed to work fairly well, Collins said their professors had a hard time adjusting to an online education.

“My professors, they struggled. When the pandemic first hit, they mostly just gave us good grades in order to keep the process moving,” Collins said. “Honestly, I feel the professors and students were impacted badly from the start of the pandemic.”

According to Collins, when the pandemic began, many educators were unaware how to use online formats to teach, and in order to continue the education process without halts, they would push students along. Collins believes that, for a few weeks, they were not learning.

“I do feel I was halted for a few weeks after the shutdown started, my education was put on a pause while my professors tried to change how they teach,” Collins said.

Another difficult part of the pandemic for Collins was making friends, as many of their classes were held virtually.

“I’d look over to the cameras during our Zoom class, and nobody would have their cameras on,” Collins said. “The first portion of the pandemic, I had a difficult time making friends because nobody participated in our class meetings.”

Considering that Collins is a psychology major, one of their most important functions is to communicate with people, but that was missing at the start of the pandemic.

“Yeah, the beginning was rough. I felt disconnected with my peers, professors, and even myself,” Collins said. “I was missing such a huge part of my major, that connection is what I thrive off of and without it, I was depressed.”

According to Collins’, their mental health seriously declined throughout the pandemic, their studies were not up to par and their communication skills were decreasing.

“Since we were all stuck at home, I didn’t make an effort to dress for class, I didn’t move around too much, and without any friends, my life became my bedroom,” Collins said.

Collins was grateful to return to their campus studies, because they felt much better mentally.

“The pandemic really hit my mental health; it lowered it more. When we did get back on campus, I started feeling, and doing, much better.”

Although there are a mix of trials and tribulations that students and professors face during the pandemic, Collins says that they are thankful that Salisbury University has made great efforts to provide a safe space for students.

“My school has done a really great job with implementing covid restrictions and guidelines so that we (students) can get back to campus as quickly, and safely, as possible.” Collins said.

Much like Sydney Collins of Salisbury University, Regent University Psychology student Brendyn Vanderslice has also struggled with the pandemic during college.

“The pandemic hit when I was in my first semester, I was living on campus at the time,” Vanderslice said. “Rough is an understatement, only being on campus for a few months and then being sent home for who knows how long; it was a nightmare.”

Vanderslice was heavily impacted by the pandemic because of the whirlwind of emotions she went through during a few months of coping.

“I struggled being away from my family on campus, but my few friends there helped me,” Vanderslice said. “When we were told to not come back from spring break, I completely shut down.”

Like many college students, Vanderslice was at a loss when everything shut down; she became a homebody and felt disconnected from the outside world.

“I stood back from a lot,” Vanderslice said. “As a psychology major, I am supposed to communicate daily; it’s a part of me and my future career. But, being thrown into online schooling, I was confined to my room and I shut down.”

Vanderslice not only had to deal with the stress of pandemic schooling, but she also was going through multiple health problems that held her studies back.

“My initial health problems were minor, but as COVID continued, so did my health problems.” Vanderslice said.

Balancing health issues and a new school life is difficult, but Vanderslice pulled through.

“Unbeknownst to me, I did it,” Vanderslice said. “Forming into a virtual school environment turned out to be simpler than I thought it would be. I actually prefer it now.”

Vanderslice still communicates with her on campus friends frequently, but did not return to campus when Regent opened back up.

“For my mental health, it was better for me to continue working from home,” Vanderslice said. “I had an easier time doing homework, especially since I have no required Zoom meetings online.”

Regent University has continuously made efforts to make their students and staff aware about any covid precautions, which Vanderslice is thankful for.

“Even though I don’t need to worry about the precautions, because I’m online, I am glad that my school is still doing their best to keep everyone safe.” Vanderslice said.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, students across the country have had their ups and downs. With bad times, Vanderslice says there are always good times too.

“I struggled, for sure,” Vanderslice said. “But, the pandemic has also helped me a lot. By being able to do school virtually, I have maintained a full-time job, which has actually helped me decide that I want to work with children.”

Vanderslice’s dreams are now to be a children’s therapist, which only came about because of the pandemic. Without her initial struggles, Vanderslice says she would have not been able to find her dream job so soon.

“My graduation is this summer and I can’t wait,” Vanderslice said. “After graduation, I’ll be changing my course to getting ready to work with kids. The pandemic was hard for me at first, but I want to keep living the best I can.”

Vanderslice’s advice to incoming college students during the pandemic is to not lose their spark for their major.

“It may be taxing and stressful to do that with something going on and something that has thrown you off track,” Vanderslice said. “Trust me, it’ll all work out in the end.”

Above, Sydney Collins preparing themself for their in-person classes at Salisbury University this semester. Photo submitted by Sydney Collins. Below, Brendyn Vanderslice before a celebration for honor students at Regent University. Photo submitted by Brendyn Vanderslice.

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