• Corbett Inc.

Students Cultural Rite of Passage … Canceled

Transitioning from high school to college will not be the same for students in 2020.

once in a lifetime moment missed

One of the side effects of seniors finishing up their final semester at home is missing out on some of the traditional activities their peers and parents shared during their final moments as a high school student.

For some, it comes down to being apart from the same friends and classmates they have been through so much with, to not being able to celebrate the apex of their high school experience.

Those dreams and goals are on hold and this past spring left students in a vague headspace by the coronavirus. While learning virtually from home, students had little to distract them from the uncertainty besides sleep and schoolwork.

Social isolation and increased stress put teenagers at risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. In multiple studies many young learners said the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health:

“Nearly half (49%) of interviewed children in the United States said they were worried, while just over one third (34%) reported feeling scared, and one quarter (27%) felt anxious.”
“In the UK, 20% of the interviewed children worried about the future due to school closures, and almost 60% worried that a relative might fall sick.”
“In Germany, one third (33%) of children said they were worried they would not be able to finish their school year.” Source

Not only has the fear of the unknown complicated graduation plans but incoming freshman will not be able to anticipate a traditional start to their college experience.

fear of “unfinished learning”

Many students found finishing their spring semester virtually was far from motivating and inspiring. On a positive note, high school students were able to experiment and decide if virtual class was a productive way of learning for them.

“According to a Brookings study, taking courses online increases the probability of dropping out. Another study found each online course produced dropout rates 10-20% higher than on-campus courses; over a semester or two, that adds up to a huge persistence gap.” Source

Whereas in the past College was the first-time students could experience various learning models.

‘I find it impossible to actually learn anything new through the distance learning.’ -Stephan T, Easton CT

How will universities recover incoming students lost motivation and fear of cancelation? Part of the college experience is connecting with students on campus, joining communities who share your same interest, and connecting with your classmates over late-night work sessions in the residence halls and libraries.

“According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, 62% of colleges and universities are, as of this writing, welcoming students back to campus, and 21% are planning a hybrid model. Only 8% of institutions will start the fall semester online only." Source

what now?

Crises almost always lead to acceleration. This is the chance for online offerings to become more sophisticated and learning-centered. When the worry of the virus disappears the benefits of online learning will remain. But the American college experience is unlike anywhere else in the world. These institutions serve hundreds of thousands of students from all walks of life while supporting the most advanced research on the planet. On campus, classics majors sit next to business majors in a psychology class or at a basketball game. This experience of diversity is truly unique compared to the rest of our very segregated society. It is within this diversity that transformative learning takes place and where people make discoveries about themselves and the world. If anything, the lived experience of social isolation is reinforcing the importance of interacting with others in physical proximity—even if you have to wear a mask.

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