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COVID and College: Survey Reveals Students' Take on Learning

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Around 80% of first-time college students surveyed had positive feedback about their educational experience in fall 2020. (AdobeStock)
Around 80% of first-time college students surveyed had positive feedback about their educational experience in fall 2020. (AdobeStock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
January 8, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new survey dispels the myth that COVID-19 has diminished the quality of learning for college students.

In a poll from Gallup and Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, students were asked last fall about how the pandemic is impacting their semester and their future plans.

Courtney Brown, vice president for strategic impact and planning at the Lumina Foundation, said nearly three-fourths of students rated the quality of their education as "excellent" or "very good."

She explained an area of concern is half of currently enrolled students expect COVID-19 to impact their ability to continue their studies.

"Understanding that the issues we're dealing with are not just the recession and the lack of funds but the real things that are driving uncertainty are the fear of the virus and the emotional stress that's going along with that," Brown outlined.

According to the survey, Black and Hispanic students were more likely than Caucasian students to question college completion.

Brown found the responses enlightening, and noted they'll help colleges better understand the need to engage with students.

"We understand students need more support," Brown acknowledged. "They need more emotional support. Some of them need more financial support. They need mentors; they need people who are there for them so they don't feel this isolation."

But it's not just 19-year-olds living in dorms who need support.

Brown contended higher-learning institutions also should ensure adult learners, who account for almost half of students, are able to stay on track.

"They have jobs, they have children, and that's taking on another emotional stress," Brown explained. "And those are the most at risk of dropping out or leaving because they can't do it all at this point. So institutions are really going to have to think about who are their students who have these other responsibilities."

Overall, students who attended in-person classes reported a more positive experience than those attending online.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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