10 Confusing, Sad Truths About Being A College Student During The Pandemic

The realities and struggles of living through a pandemic as a college student.

reality of being a college student during coronavirus pandemic Getty

When my university first sent the email saying that we couldn’t go back to campus until two weeks after spring break because of the coronavirus pandemic, I just thought it was going to be an extended spring break. Trust me — not a single college student was complaining about getting extra time on vacation.

My friends and I were so excited about what we called “spring break part 2” and we couldn’t wait to go to the beach and attend social events.


Then our two weeks break quickly transformed into us not getting to come back to campus at all and having to switch to remote instruction. That’s when it started to hit some of us — COVID-19 wasn’t something to brush off.

My former college roommate and I often joke about how if someone told us we were going to be quarantined during the spring semester of our freshman year we would have never believed it.

COVID-19 has certainly turned my whole spring semester of college upside down. No matter how unexpected it was, this pandemic is a huge part of why we have new normals.

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Just like the rest of the world, college students had no idea that our lives were going to drastically change. Many of my friends have moved back home, lost our jobs, canceled trips, or have lost loved ones because of the coronavirus.

I, just like millions of other students, had so many plans and hopes for the spring semester in college. I do feel that the coronavirus has robbed me of enjoying my spring semester fully.

Often we hear about how coronavirus is affecting adults and the economy, but what about college students? It’s as though adults who aren’t in college forget about how drastic the shift is for us as young adults, just getting started in the world. I think COVID-19 has had one of the biggest effects on college students.

Some college students consider their college campus to be home because our whole life is there. Mine felt that way. I didn’t just live and go to class on campus — I worked there, volunteered there, went to the doctor there, had a social life there, and even went to the gym.

So much of my life was tied up in that campus.


When we were forced to move out of our dorms and to take online classes it was like being forced to leave your life behind. I know that sounds really dramatic, but once you're immersed in college culture, it becomes your life.

At the same token, I understand that universities want to do what’s best for the health and safety of students. Sometimes I’m doing so they have to make tough decisions that always leave someone unhappy. Despite all the coronavirus craziness, I’m thankful that my university implemented the pass or fail grading system, provided partial housing refunds, and is sending funds to students in need.

Even with all these efforts, it’s still hard to accept that life as a student is now different. Check out the 10 struggles no one tells you about being in college during the coronavirus pandemic:

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1. Graduation is (pretty much) canceled.

All the students graduating this year will not get to walk across the stage for their graduation as planned. One of the highlights of being a student is the opportunity to walk across the stage in front of your friends and family to get your diploma. At that moment all the hard work from the past four years instantly becomes worth it all.

The class of 2020 will not have that opportunity. Most students are having virtual graduations until after the pandemic, some of us may not have graduations at all.

I love the “I’m Still Graduating” movement that is going on. All these celebrities and companies are going out of their way to make sure that the class of 2020 feels special and realize that their accomplishments still matter.

2. The class of 2020 is entering a crashing job market.

I can just imagine graduating into a normal job market being stressful and filled with uncertainty. Doing so during a pandemic must be a whole other type of pressure. Some companies aren’t even hiring because they’re just trying to stay afloat.


Unless you’re working in an essential field or have great connections, it might be a while till you get a job. Whether or not you're employed, you are still expected to pay your bills. So if you’re an unemployed college graduate who will soon be expected to pay back your college loans too. If you can’t to, they'll continue to collect interest.

3. Incoming first-years are being robbed of an in-person college experience.

As someone who has experienced two normal semesters in college and one during the pandemic, there’s no denying it’s different. You won’t get a real feel of what it’s like to be a student at your school. Instead of exploring campus, joining organizations, and attending events, you’ll be enjoying Zoom University from the comfort of your parent's house in your PJs.

4. In-person classes are no longer an option, which means some of us may struggle to succeed.

I’ve heard this time and time again from my friends “online classes are not the same as in-person”. No matter how great of a lecturer a professor is or how easy a course is, it’s not the same learning experience. I find that I learn more in an actual class.

In an online class, many students, myself included, find themselves doing the work just for completion purposes and not to learn the material. When class isn’t online I noticed that students are more engaged and we don’t have to worry about poor connections or Zoom bombing.


5. College resources aren’t as accessible.

Certain resources such as WiFi, free printing, pantries, and study areas are nonexistent for college students right now. The universities can not help us in all the areas they were previously able to because we are no longer on campus.

Yes, resources like tutoring, peer mentoring, and career services can be available through virtual contact, but most students won’t be taking advantage of them.

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6. Financial disparities among college students make learning harder (or may force some of us to drop out).

Not everyone comes from a home that has great WiFi connection, an office, or even parents who have graduated college who can help them. These disadvantages will make it harder for college students from low-income families to succeed academically during this pandemic.


The financial divide among students will be more apparent because the university resources will not be able to help level the playing field as it once was.

7. Our sleep schedules are totally messed up.

Most college students have moved back home because of the pandemic. But where home is can affect us. Sometimes home is 30 minutes away and other times it’s a whole different country.

I think such a change can mess up our sleep schedules, especially if the time zone changes. Our routines are being thrown off because we are in an environment that we are no longer familiar with.


8. Many of our internships have been canceled.

All college students from freshmen to seniors have the possibility of earning internships. Earning one is seen as a big deal because it allows college students to gain experience before we have to enter a competitive job market.

It could even reveal to them if their career choice is the right fit for them. So losing an internship or finding out it has to be done remotely can be discouraging.

9. Most college students don't get a stimulus check.

A good amount of college students won’t qualify for the stimulus check, even if they make less than $75,000 annually. We are considered to be too old to be children, and we aren’t old enough if our parents claim us as a dependent. Resulting in us getting nothing, but on the bright side, that might change.

10. We have no idea what the future holds for us.

The biggest struggle college students face during this pandemic is uncertainty. We have no idea when we will be able to return to campus.


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Tamara Sanon is a writer who covers astrology, spirituality, love, and relationship topics.