Title of Abstract

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Freshman Experience in Fall 2020

Session Title

The College Experience / Health and Wellness 2

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Michael Sickels, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology, Criminology & Anthropology

Abstract

This project examines how Covid-19 impacted the communal experience of college among incoming freshmen in fall 2020. We chose this population as they entered college during unprecedented times that completed altered how universities function. While the pandemic has continued until fall 2021, the university is functioning closer to normalcy at this time. We conducted our research among students who started college for the first time in fall 2020 at Winthrop University. The social context of Winthrop was deeply altered in fall 2020, with a virtual start, and classes and school events primarily operating online. Communal spaces were closed or limited and masking was required in all public areas. We used focus groups to research their experience as well as observe their interactions as a group. Our findings concluded that Covid-19 did impact how college freshman experienced their first year of college in the fall of 2020. Online classes forced students to stay in their room for extensive periods of time. They also had a very hard time cultivating meaningful relationships with peers and professors. External factors came into play during these student’s first year of college, such as, familial care and obligations and working more than usual. Despite clearly experiencing isolation during their first semester, we did find that most students held a positive attitude towards the institution which we believe stems from a desire to be happy with the school they are in, even if they did not experience true community.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Freshman Experience in Fall 2020

This project examines how Covid-19 impacted the communal experience of college among incoming freshmen in fall 2020. We chose this population as they entered college during unprecedented times that completed altered how universities function. While the pandemic has continued until fall 2021, the university is functioning closer to normalcy at this time. We conducted our research among students who started college for the first time in fall 2020 at Winthrop University. The social context of Winthrop was deeply altered in fall 2020, with a virtual start, and classes and school events primarily operating online. Communal spaces were closed or limited and masking was required in all public areas. We used focus groups to research their experience as well as observe their interactions as a group. Our findings concluded that Covid-19 did impact how college freshman experienced their first year of college in the fall of 2020. Online classes forced students to stay in their room for extensive periods of time. They also had a very hard time cultivating meaningful relationships with peers and professors. External factors came into play during these student’s first year of college, such as, familial care and obligations and working more than usual. Despite clearly experiencing isolation during their first semester, we did find that most students held a positive attitude towards the institution which we believe stems from a desire to be happy with the school they are in, even if they did not experience true community.