Since the first covid-19 case was reported in December 2019, many things have changed including aspects of life like education. Educational fraternities have been forced to change how they operate, and some have even ceased to function. Students and instructors have also changed how they operate, and more so, students have been greatly affected. In Virginia, some tertiary institutions, such as the Northern Virginia Community College, have faced many challenges and have been forced to reconfigure how they work. The purpose of this paper is to explain the difficulties that students of NOVA College in Virginia have faced as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. The identified challenges will reflect what the community students are facing during this period.
One of the challenges facing NOVA students since the onset of covid-19 is a disruption in learning. When cases of covid-19 patients skyrocketed in different states, the government ordered the immediate closure of all learning institutions. Virginia State had to adhere, and NOVA College and other colleges were indefinitely closed. This disrupted the scheduled learning program, and students had to adjust to the changes. They had to look for ways to adapt to the new system of learning that was put in place. Besides, students and staff had to switch their attention from school matters to health matters, which must have been hard for some students, such as the slow learners. Disruption of learning may make some students lose focus. Additionally, some may not go back to school even after the pandemic because they might have started some business or lost hope for education. Therefore, the pandemic disrupted learning in NOVA College, and this reflects what happened in many colleges.
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Another challenge that college students have faced is the loss of social interaction. From experience, I have lost connections with my school friends due to the pandemic. Once the colleges were closed, everybody had to back home for their safety. The friendships that were there between students and students to teachers and staff were lost. Students reported missing social interactions and campus environment from a study conducted by Dutta and Smita (53-68) on the pandemic’s effects on Bangladesh’s tertiary education. The same applies to Virginia students at NOVA College. Even though students can interact online, face-to-face interactions are more effective and foster friendships more than online exchanges. Hence, the loss of interactions is a challenge that many college students are facing.
Thirdly, the pandemic has caused negative changes in the physical health of students. The study on Bangladesh concluded that many students reported that their physical health has been deteriorating (Dutta and Smita 53). Life at home is very different from life at school. While at school, students do engage in co-curricular activities that improve their physical health. It is opposed to while they are at home. They have much time and spend most of it eating, sleeping, and watching movies. Note that most community recreation facilities have been closed to reduce the spread of Covid-1. As such, most students are living unhealthy lifestyles – with no social interaction or physical exercise. In the end, they may become obese or overweight.
The fourth effect is mental health problems. Stress may be the leading type of mental disorder that students are going through. It has also hit me as a student, and sometimes I find myself thinking about my academic education and the covid-19 situation. Students have goals, and when they are disrupted, it becomes an issue to think about. Some students may have planned their academic schedule and what they will do after completing it. However, due to the pandemic, they cannot achieve the goals, and what follows is being hit by the stress of not achieving. Besides academic stress, they may also be hit by pandemic stress. It has hit everyone alongside students. The stress may extend to other mental health problems. Therefore, this is a big challenge that covid-19 has impacted on college students across Virginia State.
Lastly, students have faced a financial crisis during this period, and it is likely to extend even after the pandemic. From my observation, many NOVA College students had side hustles within Virginia State, and some depended on their parents. Those who have side hustles and went back home to other states were forced to stop working, leading to a lack of money. Similarly, those who depended on their parents may no longer receive assistance because they are at home. Due to this, students have faced a financial crisis during this period. Additionally, engaging in online classes throughout is expensive, and most of them are spending much on that. All these, brought by the pandemic, have led to a financial crisis. However, NOVA College launched an initiative to help students struggling with economic fallout due to covid-19 (Lake para 1).
To sum up, the pandemic has impacted students negatively in many ways. Some of the notable ways are; disrupting learning, loss of social interactions, negative physical health changes, mental health problems, and financial constraints. However, NOVA College has been at the forefront in addressing some of them, particularly giving financial help to students struggling with economic fallout. Students need to take note of the challenges and prevent them in every way possible. Challenges like mental health, physical health, and loss of interactions can be managed and avoid further repercussions.
Dutta, Sushmita, and Marzia Khatan Smita. “The Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Tertiary Education In Bangladesh: Students’ Perspectives”. Open Journal Of Social Sciences, vol 08, no. 09, 2020, pp. 53-68. Scientific Research Publishing, Inc., doi:10.4236/jss.2020.89004. Accessed 22 Mar 2021.
Lake, Sydney. “Northern Virginia Community College Launches COVID-19 Emergency Fund For Students”. Virginia Business, 2020, https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/northern-virginia-community-college-launches-covid-19-emergency-fund-for-students/. Accessed 22 Mar 2021.