The pandemic generation goes to college. it was not easy.

Author: Yuvi November 1, 2022  The pandemic generation goes to college.  it was not easy.

Jazeba Ahmed was a junior in high school when Covid-19 hit and her math education faltered. Ms. Ahmed was enrolled in an international-class mathematics class that aimed to provide a strong foundation in areas such as algebra, geometry, statistics and calculus.

But her high school in Columbus, Ohio, made a rocky transition to distance learning, she said, and soon, math classes were too little for her to show for. By her first year at Columbus State Community College, 19-year-old Ms. Ahmed found herself faltering in what should have been mastered—algebra.

“I missed a lot in those two years,” said Ms. Ahmed. “If I had learned those skills in high school, I think I would have been better equipped to do well in that class.”

Colleges are now educating their first wave of students who experienced pandemic learning loss in high school. What they are seeing is worrisome, especially because the latest disappointing results of the fourth and eighth grade national examinations show that incoming students may be facing year after year struggling to catch up. In almost all the states, there was a significant drop in eighth grade maths and most states also showed a decline in the reading of fourth and eighth grade students.

In interviews across the country, undergraduates discussed how their unrelated high school experiences have left them behind in their first years of college; Some professors talked about how the grades are down, as well as the standards. Many students are tentative and anxious.

For many low-income students and students of color, who have historically faced great obstacles to earning a degree, the classes seem just as daunting and just as difficult are graduating.

Anyway, in many states, high school graduation rates for the class of 2021 have dropped. According to preliminary data recently published by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, graduate enrollment has declined by 4.2 percent since 2020.

The “swirl of issues” all demonstrate that we’ve found a crisis, said Stanley Litov, visiting professor of public policy at Duke University and former deputy chancellor of New York City Public Schools.

This is especially bad, he said, for low-income students and students of color. “The population we are most interested in is moving in the wrong direction,” he said.

Benedict College, a historically black college in Columbia, SC, is facing that reality. College president Roslyn Clark Artis said first-year enrollment there, which typically accounts for about 700 students, had halved in the fall of 2020 and dropped to just under 600. But administrators were stunned to see only 378 enrollments during this term, which Dr. Artis attributed to students’ concerns about the economy.

When Covid hit, most of the students were high school students, and they arrived with lower ACT scores than in previous years. The college has seen “significant remedial needs” in mathematics, Dr. Artis said.

“We are now two and a half weeks past midterm, and our grades are telling the story: Students are struggling with maths,” she said.

In math departments across the country, professors and administrators say more students need more support. Professors spoke of shortening their curriculum and lowering their expectations.

Lee DeVille, a math professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he “triaged” a class this past spring to focus on the fundamentals. It took him pains to cut out some “beautiful math,” she said, but it seemed necessary.

“They came in with a little less, and they probably came out with a little less,” he said.

At Texas A&M University, some math classes saw higher rates of D, F, as well as more withdrawals during the pandemic. The problems are particularly bad for first-year students, said Paulo Lima-Filho, executive director of the university’s Mathematics Teaching Center, which offers tuition.

He noted that all types of students lacked sharp basic math skills and rigorous study habits. And some students had a wrong understanding of basic concepts, which he was particularly concerned about.

“This difference will spread through the generation of the group,” said Dr. Lima-Filho. “Colleges have to make extra efforts to bridge that gap.”

Nick Sullivan, an A&M student, took a hybrid calculus course at his high school in Belton, Texas. The students learned mainly from the videos, with complementary in-person instruction, a style that “didn’t work for me at all,” he said.

Still, Mr. Sullivan expressed hope last year that the class would give him an advantage in college math. But he found that almost nothing happened, he said, and “I had really thought the wrong things.”

He said that the help of an attractive professor and mathematics center has helped him make up for the time lost, and he is now majoring in nuclear engineering.

In college writing and literature courses, instructors say they have seen fewer issues with student preparation. But many pointed to other concerns, including higher levels of anxiety and less desire to seek support.

At Auburn University’s Writing Center, first-year students historically made up about 30 percent of those seeking help — “one of the largest constituencies we’ve served,” said Christopher Busgeier, the university’s director of writing.

Which has come down to 20 percent. “It may be that because they spent more time learning from home, they are not used to going out and asking for that kind of extra help,” he said.

The bigger risk for students is taking longer, and perhaps more money, to earn a degree – or not taking it at all.

At Benedict, which serves many low-income, first-generation students, the pandemic has made it even more difficult to ensure that students graduate on time, Dr. Artis said. According to data from the US Department of Education, the college had a six-year graduation rate of 25 percent in 2021-22.

He said the college has “doubled” in providing resources to students who are considering withdrawing from classes. And despite the low graduation rates, she said college is the right one to pursue.

“We are committed to the population for whom it is common to be denied suffrage,” said Dr. Artis. “We’ve always accepted the kind of burden everyone gives us for our inability to push a child, despite the black eyes—whose experience has been anything but traditional—in the traditional time frame of four years.”

The epidemic’s long tail can also be felt in the mental health of adolescents, for whom rates of anxiety, depression and suicide have increased.

Dr. Artis said he has noticed a change among students who have spent their final years of high school education primarily online. Those students, he said, seem more reserved, less eager to engage in large group activities. The college football team is undefeated for the first time in its history, but student attendance at games is low.

“We have students for the first time in my 10 years as college president — tell me, ‘Do we have to attend parties?’ he said. “There’s almost an anxiety associated with returning to a social setting.”

At the University of Oregon, many students maintained a “level of apathy” toward the college, said Amy Hughes-Giard, an assistant vice provost focused on supporting new students.

“They want to connect, but they are unsure,” she said.

Klutch Anderson was a first-year student at the University of Oregon when Covid-19 torpedoed her college experience. The 21-year-old arts and technology major Mr Anderson said he found it difficult to establish a routine. During his sophomore year, his classes were remote and he barely left his off-campus apartment. He went into depression.

“I had no motivation and couldn’t do anything in my classes,” he said. Now a senior, he said, “I’m still trying to get out of that space.”

Mr Hughes-Giard said the university is trying to create a sense of belonging, by organizing events and creating places to relax. But for the students who are left behind, they worry that the impact of the pandemic is not going away any time soon. Even today, they often have other burdens, such as working extra jobs to feed themselves and support their families.

“We’re always trying to narrow that gap,” she said. “But it looks like we’ve hit the wide open mouth of the river again.”

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

1 November, 2022, 2:30 pm

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