Covid College: Zooming in on its impacts on the UNH student community

Covid+College%3A+Zooming+in+on+its+impacts+on+the+UNH+student+community

Julie Bobyock , Staff Writer

It’s been two years since the outbreak of a pandemic that has impacted everyone’s lives – businesses, institutions and corporations globally have had to not only develop countless new protocols, but also learn how to live with them. So, what has that looked like for college students, and how have their perceptions of COVID-19 changed in these two years?  

 

Between nights spent in isolation, endless classes, meetings and clubs on zoom, barriers to meeting new people and getting that text that says, “I tested positive…,” new college students have no idea what University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) campus looked like pre-pandemic, and upperclassmen are beginning to forget.  

 

But students are getting used to it. In a survey conducted by The New Hampshire asking students to rate their concern regarding COVID-19 on a scale of 1 to 5, students’ ratings decreased an average of 1.5 since last year, indicating that many students currently feel less troubled about the pandemic in general.
 

However, after a prolonged period of students adapting to the pandemic’s impacts, there are likely to be long-lasting effects on student mental health, motivation and engagement. Senior communication and sciences disorders major Hope Sherman explained, “My motivation is at an all-time low – not only mentally with classes, but also physically. It takes a lot more effort to get work done, as well as stay active and maintain a social life.” 

 

Students also expressed that it is difficult to find the silver lining and hard to find motivation when there is no clear ending of the pandemic in sight. 

 

“Before Covid, I was meeting a lot more new people which I loved,” said senior environmental science major Catherine Slayton.  “Last year I barely made new friends outside of classmates, and this year has been better in those terms, but it’s worrisome sometimes.” 

 

When asked how the pandemic has influenced students’ social lives, Skylar Hamilton, senior recreation management and policy major, stated, “As a senior, having dealt with over 2 years of ‘Covid college,’ I barely go out once a weekend. I’m mentally exhausted, and even though I’m not nearly as concerned about Covid anymore, I spent so long being worried about it that my interests and goals have changed dramatically. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Covid has definitely impacted my college social experience.” 

 

But with a rapid global decline in cases since the beginning of the year, and with more in-person classes, students also expressed new surges of encouragement. “I think I am definitely more motivated,” junior communication and sciences disorders Nicole Annand explained. “Now that classes are in person, it’s more important to put in the work and effort in order to do good.”  

 

It might even be safe to say that no one is quite the same person they were two years ago.  

 

“​​Covid really forced me to become more comfortable with being by myself,” Paige Bart, senior environmental conservation and sustainability major explained. “I think I’ve grown a lot mentally, and I’m actually grateful for that. My priorities and interests have changed because of everything we’ve gone through these past two years.”  

 

With many more events shifting to be in-person and indoor mask mandates being lifted – both on campus and off – it seems that the student community will have to adapt, yet again, to old ways of living that now seem very new. But at this point, college students have borderline professional experience of overcoming both social and academic challenges on campus. What’s one more?