COVID-19: Changing the Higher Learning Landscape and College Experience

covid-college students concept

The sudden school closures hit college towns hard. Administrators and students scramble to migrate to online learning. Graduation ceremonies and traditional academic activities are cancelled. The football season is in limbo. The restoration of normalcy in the college experience isn’t in sight.

There probably isn’t a more uncertain time for the modern-day education sector, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

A “Learning Revolution” On the Horizon

Remote learning was deemed as the quickest and most feasible solution to reduce class disruptions. This approach, however, proved to be a tricky path for many students who were inadvertently plunged into the new learning approach, regardless of their computer literacy.

Distance learning has been on the rise even before the pandemic. Colleges recognized the trend and have since begun to offer online degree programs and courses. However, as the effects of COVID-19 rage on, students will be driven toward the web-based education—and most likely for the longer term.

The World Economic Forum suggests that, while college students are mostly exposed to online learning, it remains to be seen if on-campus schools are equipped for what could be a “learning revolution.”

Today, colleges and universities across the country face the challenge of sustaining their online offerings and adopt strategies for “effective student engagement tools and teacher training.”

“The pandemic has been a great leveller in a way, giving all stakeholders (educators, learners, policy-makers and society at large) in developed and developing countries a better understanding of our current education systems’ vulnerabilities and shortcomings,” WeForum.org says.

“Study Smart, Party Smart”

When talking about unforgettable college experience, get-togethers and parties probably take the cake.

Citing a survey by Niche, Forbes reports that college students look forward to the face-to-face classes as they are set to resume this fall, and that “social events were the feature of campus life they most valued.”

All stakeholders agree imposing social distancing rules for on-campus students will curb the spread of the virus. What unclear, however, are the strategies that colleges and college towns will put in place to ensure the same outside the campuses.

“Municipalities must define what acceptable activity looks like, and what actions police will take in the face of unacceptable behavior. In turn, institutions of higher learning must clearly spell out the relationship between social distancing laws enforced by local municipalities and school codes of conduct,” says college professor and Forbes contributor Stephen M. Gavazzi.

As responsible, party-going adults, college students are expected to learn to “study smart, party smart,” Gavazzi says.

Access the full reports on World Economic Forum and Forbes.