The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on College Student Wellbeing

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The Ohio State University

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on society. For college students, there are important questions to ask about the extent to which the pandemic, associated public health measures, and the related economic downturn added to stress and affected students' wellbeing. While we know quite a bit about how many stressors (e.g., housing stress, economic stress, worry about physical and mental health, and worry about grades) affect college students in normal times, we do not know how these stressors played out during the COVID crisis (Ettman, Abdalla, Cohen, Sampson, Vivier & Galea, 2020).To find out, I conducted an exploratory survey of college students at The Ohio State University and collected quantitative and qualitative data on self-reported well-being across three periods: before the pandemic, during the initial lockdown in the spring and summer of 2020, and the fall and winter of 2020-21. Findings suggest that, relative to the pre-pandemic period, many college students experienced declines in self-reported wellbeing that persisted into the fall and winter of 2020-21. Respondents who report a decline in well-being attribute it to a variety of pandemic-related factors, especially disruptions in living situations, social isolation, and worry about health – both their own and the health of loved ones. However, worry about grades actually went down during the pandemic and students report that a variety of supportive measures taken by their instructors and institution helped alleviate academic stress.



COVID-19, Student Wellbeing, Pandemic Impact, Stress, College Students