Currently, approximately 4% of colleges are fully re-opening their doors to in person instruction for the fall semester. For younger students, public school has been variable, and often a hybrid model. ￼While physical safety is paramount, it’s also important to acknowledge that there is an emotional toll for many students. In my practice, what I have most noticed is that assignments are piling up and not being turned in. According to a study conducted during the summer of 2020, over 75% of college students reported feeling more anxiety, stress, or even depression, due to online learning. A similar number of students have noted that they find it difficult to access their instructors between class sessions.
Additional concerns related to online learning:
Students have to clock in by a certain time to be counted as present or otherwise tardy. Being at home makes it tempting to stay up late, and sleep deprivation and staying in bed are the norm for many young people during the current time.
Many students have difficulty tracking assignments, due dates, and deadlines, online.
The majority of students are muted and have video turned off. Several of my clients play video games and even sleep while attempting to be in class.
Pets, siblings, even parents, working from home, can be very distracting.
Lack of social interaction
In class, having your peers present with you makes it an experience that is much more supportive and positive.
While experiencing stress, anxiety related to health, or difficulty with social distancing, the majority of students have reported that these factors are not taken into consideration by their instructors or educational institutions. For example, a young woman reported that deadlines have to be met, no matter what the extraneous circumstances.
Lack of workspace or Internet availability
A number of students have been unable to get online except for on a cell phone. All of their classroom instruction was done from a cell phone, which is quite challenging. Often, their parents did not know how to access the information that was needed to successfully conduct a school day. Recently, through my practice, I was able to gather a group of volunteers, who helped families set up online learning. For other students, there is lack of space in the home to have a quiet classroom atmosphere. I discourage working from bedrooms because of the distractibility factor, but often there are no other spaces that are available.
Inability to access extracurricular activities
For many students, some of the most enjoyable and positive aspects of school include being in clubs, sports, and after school activities. Many of these have been diminished, which makes it even less palatable to be in school online.
The majority of students do not see their parents at work or experience the work stressors that their parents may go through. With many parents working from home, there is much more exposure to work related stress. One young client reported that her parents are in the home and yet they are never fully present. Conversely, for parents, having to monitor school related activities, while attending to their work responsibilities is very challenging.
I strongly encourage my clients to take frequent breaks to stretch, move around the room, and eat snacks. The average attention span is 45 minutes or less, and lengthy online classes are often taxing and exhausting￼.