Being a Student During a Pandemic 

Portrait of Sierra Schallock next to text reading "Sierra Schallock, Student Author, 2/25/2021""

Are you feeling isolated? A lot of us are, too. On top of the stress of managing college, we have to do it in the middle of a pandemic. What does that mean for us as students?

  1. We don’t get to walk for graduation
  2. We don’t get to see or build those friendships in person as we would have before COVID-19
  3. We have to adapt to a completely online landscape

Finding ways to interact with, well, anyone can be pretty difficult and have some major impacts on the mental health of students. However, it is not all bad. By adapting in such a way, it shows future employers that we are highly capable people able to tailor to their needs on a dime. So, don’t lose hope and take a look at the things you can do to combat this isolation and negativity.

How COVID-19 is Harming Us as Students

First, we need to discuss how the pandemic has affected us as students. This article called “COVID-19 has Hurt College Students” discusses both socioeconomic and academic harms to students. It demonstrates that many students are not optimistic about their futures, as GPA’s have declined for some and job and internships opportunities have been lost for others. Over half the students surveyed for this article are expecting to delay their graduation date.

The pandemic has hit first generation and BIPOC students even harder. The article states that “nonwhite students were 70 percent more likely to change their majors due to the pandemic compared to their white peers, and first-generation students were 50 percent more likely to delay graduation than students who have college-educated parents. This is likely due to the pandemic's outsize effects on racial minorities and those who are lower income, according to the report.” Those with low incomes often work on the front lines when it comes to the service industry, exposing them to a greater risk of contracting COVID. “The personal health and financial impacts from the virus were very likely to impact students' decisions, the report found.”

Another article called “8000+ community College Students Share their COVID-19 Stories” did a fairly extensive survey into what factors have affected college students. The chart below describes just how hard college students are impacted financially:

Bar chart showing challenges students face due to COVID-19.

On top of that, being unable to participate in the typical college experience and being isolated to a room with the only social interaction being Zoom classes, in which you can barely talk to your peers, can have a large impact on mental health.

Greta Anderson wrote an article titled “Mental Health Needs Rise with Pandemic” discussing the mental impacts and needs of college students. This article discusses that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention created a survey for those aged 18 to 24, and a fourth of those surveyed had “seriously considered suicide” in the previous month. On top of that, there were higher rates of anxiety and depression for college students than ever before. While COVID-19 is dangerous, the deteriorating mental health of students is as well. Resources are available to help such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which can be reached 24/7 at (800) 273-8255. Also, the WWU Counseling Service which can be contacted from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at (360) 650-3164 and after-hours counseling can be contacted by calling the same number and pressing or saying “1.” Additionally, you can find the WWU Counseling Center online.

What Can We Do About It?

Just because we may have to socially distance does not mean we can’t interact in a social way. While it may not be the same, there are options that might bring a little joy to your life, even if it is on Zoom. There are many things the Western Marketing Program and its  Student Marketing Association can offer us as students.

One way to feel less socially isolated is to go to your professor’s office hours. Professors often say they spend their office hours alone, so allow their experience and knowledge help you through these hard times. We all know that group projects can be a strain at times, but they help tremendously with the limited social interaction due to the pandemic. Take some time during group meetings to talk and get to know one another a little more. You can even try to meet more often. We are all in this together.

Another way to be more social and get that much needed human interaction, even virtually, would be being to join a club. The WWU Student Marketing Association is a great way to get started. They offer weekly meetings from 6:30 to 7:30 on Wednesday nights. The link to these Zoom meetings can be found in their Instagram bio.  Not only would this give you a great opportunity in terms of networking for the future, but it can help reduce some of the loneliness you may be feeling due to the pandemic.

People holding coffee mugs together

From the time I wrote the first draft of the blog to now, COVID restrictions have changed. That is how quickly our lives can be flipped upside down, again. My original statement was “also, you can safely meet with friends for a cup of coffee or a nice dinner.” Now, everything has shut down again, so make sure you keep up with updates. However, you can still meet outside and even at restaurants that provide outdoor seating. It is important that you follow all safety precautions which are outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it is not impossible to have social interactions safely. Consider grabbing a cup of coffee and going to your local park with friends or even having a nice dinner at a restaurant that provides outdoor seating.

What SMA Has to Offer 

  • Education on marketing and what it truly is
  • Networking opportunities with professionals
  • Networking opportunities with fellow students
  • Resume building support
  • Professional support through professional readiness workshops
  • Social interaction
  • Advice on how to find and be prepared for the career you want
Students sitting in armchairs, titled "Participants at the SMA Case Competition"

The WWU Student Marketing Association allows students to be part of something more than just coursework. On top of the weekly meetings, Western’s SMA hosts a multitude of events in which students can practice their skills and meet professionals which can benefit future job opportunities for the students. Additionally, joining WWU’s SMA can help students interact more often with one another to combat some of the harmful mental effects COVID-19 has burdened them with.