By the Student, For the Student: How Young People Are Being Affected By COVID-19 In Their Words

Lolayemi Charles
Publication Year:
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

In light of COVID-19, many students across the world are facing an increased number of challenges to acquire and continue their education.When considering the increased difficulties and hardship students are facing during the pandemic, it is important to hear their experience from their perspective. This post is in follow-up to a study investigating the potential impacts of COVID-19 on existing education inequalities. The research conducted aimed to identify the patterns of social, economic, political, and cultural factors that contribute to the persistence of education inequalities internationally. The investigation also aimed to determine which factors would be most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how this would affect existing challenges in education systems. 

While conducting the research, I realized that the student perspective was missing from the conversation. To account for this, I reached out to students across the United States to give them a platform to speak about their concerns and their experiences during COVID-19. The journal entries collected were written and submitted by high school to college aged students in the United States. In these entries, students share their thoughts, concerns, and emotions in the midst of the pandemic. The following journal entries reveal the deep toll COVID-19 has taken on not only student's abilities to learn, but also their mental and physical health.


Journal Entry #1

March 6th was my last day of school. My classmates and I were ecstatic for what we thought was going to be a short break. This day ended with hugs and us saying, “see you in a few weeks.” None of us knew what the future would truly bring. I still cannot wrap my head around all that has occurred around the world, it is almost something out a movie. Watching the news has become mentally draining, and for a while, I had to stay away from it because I felt myself falling into a dark place. Going from constantly being around people, to being stuck home took a toll, but I am thankful to have a great family with me.

Personally, I feel as though online schooling was a waste of time. Most classes just gave busy work that you got nothing out of. And for the classes that gave things that were beneficial, it was still up to the student on how much they got from what was given. I took notes and did everything to the best of my ability, and yet I still feel as though I am not prepared for next school year. And, I know I will be behind in math and especially Spanish. COVID has for sure hit everyone in different ways.

-Nina, 9th grade, Havre De Grace, MD


Journal Entry #2

With what’s happening during COVID-19, its been very stressful, and scary. It makes me fear that my family members might catch it, and that I may never see them again. With everything going on, I don’t agree with opening back up the states because the numbers are still going up with coronavirus deaths. It puts people at a greater risk of catching COVID-19 being outside, which means that the deaths would go up even more than they already are. While this is scary, quarantine has given people more time to choose their paths and think about things that are going on in their lives. I don’t know what needs to be done but I know that something should be.

-Emily Cuevas, College Sophomore, Lake Elsinore CA


Journal Entry #3

When I first started hearing about how serious COVID-19 was, it was during Spring Break. I had seen on social media how schools were closing and announcing “temporary” breaks. For a while, I didn’t really expect my school to go on lockdown, so when I finally received news that it was, it kind of shocked me. Whenever I wasn’t doing schoolwork (or whenever the year ended) it was difficult to find something to do. I would become lazy and do nothing all day and go on social media. Sometimes I would try out things I saw on TikTok (like cooking), do some hobby (music and art), or just go for a walk.

I miss my friends constantly, and I’m upset that I don’t get to see them as much anymore. Sometimes I go online and try to have conversation with someone on the internet. I’ve realized who my actual, close friends are during the lockdown, which is a nice thing.

-Kiersten, 11th grade, Fort Worth, TX


Journal Entry #4

This pandemic was the worst and best thing that could have happened to me. I feel like I have more control over my classes, life, and future. With all my spare time, I’m able to do more work, live a healthier lifestyle, and reach more goals. Although some opportunities were taken away like being able to go to band practice, hanging with friends, or going to any summer programs. From time to time I do get lonely and feel like things won’t get better, but with the comfort of my friends and family, I’m able to get through this.

Remote learning has been a huge struggle for me. In most of my classes, I felt overwhelmed with work. With online classes, everything is open book, so I feel as though I don’t have to retain as much information for a quiz or final. On the other hand, I’ve used this time to get more help in classes I struggled with. This school year I felt I was taught Algebra II properly but after learning the subject on Khan Academy I feel more comfortable with it. Also, as a sophomore, I haven’t truly thought about college but with this spare time I’ve started my college search and I’ve started my SAT prep. Both of those things would not have happened if we weren’t in a pandemic.

-Nelissa, 10th grade, Brooklyn, NY


Journal Entry #5

COVID-19 has impacted education all over the world, for me, it’s limited my resources, knowledge, and learning ability. COVID made it difficult to actually learn, for I didn’t have any classes I needed to get ready for, I just had assignments due by the end of the week. My motivation and productivity declined, I didn’t have a schedule anymore, and I didn’t have the daily interactions with my classmates, which I grew to learn were essential for a healthy mind. The thing I’m most concerned about is the information I can’t get about applying to colleges. It’s not very convenient to email my teachers or counselor every question I have about standardized tests, college essays, scholarships, and so on. I’m at a disadvantage in terms of how much I know about colleges and how to apply to them for the upcoming year.

I, however, was lucky compared to my peers, I have a healthy home environment, where I can confide in people and have my own space. There are several people in my school who confide in their teachers as their only outlet, and COVID took that away from them. Neither teachers nor students can constantly reach out as they would in school, which impacts the mental health and education of those students. Teachers can only do so much about education when they’re not physically with students, and it has definitely affected the ability to learn this school year. 

-Zahra, 12th grade, Bel Air, MD


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