Wys Wellness

The College Student

I am sure it is well known that COVID has had a tremendous impact on student learners and faculty members at institutions. The effects of the pandemic include, yet are not limited to, decreased interests and participation in classes, impaired ability to focus on lectures, especially through e-learning, increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased economic hardships causing extra barriers to student success and retention at institutions and for faculty members, and a growing need for accommodations in the classroom and on e-learning platforms.

For college students between the ages of 18-28, the pandemic occurred at a pivotal time in their development. Given the prefrontal cortex of the human brain, responsible for executive functioning, does not fully develop until around age 28, student learners around this age are experiencing poor emotional regulation, increased aggression, and impaired planning skills (Maher,, 2020). It has moreover created a distressing time for recent graduates who are still looking to enter their chosen career fields but are battling an unexpected economic recession and record unemployment rates. Many of these young adults feel abandoned.

College student aspirations all changed in a matter of a year with the global pandemic in 2020. It is a vital must that institutions work to transform classrooms, online learning, and degree types, in order to truly support student success post graduation in a changing world.


The Teacher

Faculty burnout is another huge factor that has contributed to student success or failure in the classroom, during and post-COVID. In a recent study, students reveal that difficulties with keeping up with classroom obligations were the result of unavailable or uninterested in teachers (Hollister et al., 2022).

In their course on College Student Wellbeing, Trauma, and Resiliency (2023), scholars at Florida State University illuminate how faculty members were, and still are, managing the fears, losses, and huge transformations that accompanied the pandemic (Chen et al., 2022). Teachers found themselves transitioning their classrooms to an online platform with minimal experience, and meeting an array of student needs and accommodations that were the first of its kind. Educators had to become untrained counselors seemingly overnight to support their distressed students. Not to mention, educators were also managing increased work demands and understaffed departments (Becker et al., 2022; Hollister et al., 2022; Sharaievska et al., 2022).

Now more than ever, institutions are beginning to understand and assess burnout, compassion fatigue, and signs of vicarious trauma for educators differently. We know that student learners need a lot more support and changes in the classroom setting in order to meet the new demands of a changed world, and yet, so do our faculty members.


Diversity in the Classroom

Another huge component of the effects of COVID in higher learning environments are students of color and sexual minority students who are statistically found to struggle more throughout their college experiencing than their peers as a result of discriminatory practices and/or policies at institutions that fail to meet their needs equally. This was no different during COVID, it in fact worsened.

This information is not shocking, however, repetitive. And not only at educational institutions, but around the world.

What your eyes see, your mind perceives as real. What your mind continues to perceive as real, it becomes a truth of your reality. Let’s not continue on with the same narrative that, on top of emotional and mentally impairing students of oppressed identities, but, also serves perpetuates this cycle through social programming (Simmons, 2012).

I imagine that me and you are not the ones that need to hear this information anyway. The audience of that information should be the policy makers and executive leaders who control the input and output at institutions. So, we’ll start here with changing the narrative.


Changing the Narrative

Research studies sparingly reveal the success stories of students with oppressed identities. These happen to be the most resilient and creative humans on the planet. For it’s on a bare canvas that we begin to create.

We become most creative during times of scarcity, thus leading to a creative mind. There are many students with oppressed identities that thrive in environments without padded support from institutions and perhaps family (Mootoo, 2022). Students of oppressed identities know how to be without, to not expect more from an institution, or a society, that has never given them more in the first place. They are resiliently intelligent students, and they learn to use the tools and skills they already have and apply them as problem solving techniques.

Like our bodies that become stronger in the gym with increased resistance and intensity, our minds become more resilient and creative with increased demands for survival. When we remove social programming’s idea of what we need in order to be successful in the classroom, these oppressed and under-resourced students are innately gifted with the knowledge of how to work smarter and not harder.



The COVID pandemic has brought us an opportunity to transform our institutions for the new world. Educators, students, and policy makers must work together to create a new system that serves to educate and support young, expanding minds. This involves providing more supportive services to students and teachers, educating our policy makers on the much needed changes in educational system, and motivating our students with oppressed cultural identities to see a new narrative of how gifted they are.

Perhaps these changes were already needed, and the pandemic served to accentuate these needs in a way we could not turn down. If so, let’s celebrate the opportunity to not only make better, but make it right.




Becker, T. B., Fenton, J. I., Nikolai, M., Comstock, S. S., Swada, J. G., Weatherspoon, L. J., & Tucker, R. M. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on student learning during the transition from remote to in-person learning: Using mind mapping to identify and address faculty concerns. American Physiological Society.  https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/advan.00079.2022

Chen, X., Yang, S., Esperat, K. T., Bahlmann Bollinger, C. M., Van Wige, A., Wilson, N. S., & Pole, K. (2022). Literacy faculty perspectives during COVID: What did we learn? Literacy Practice and Research, 47(2), Article 5. https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/lpr/vol47/iss2/5

Hollister, B., Nair, P., Hill-Lindsay, S., & Chukoskie, L. (2022). Engagement in online learning: Student attitudes and behavior during COVID-19. Frontiers in Education. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.851019

Maher, C. (2020, August 18). Prefrontal Cortex Damage: What to Expect & How to Recover. Flint Rehab. https://www.flintrehab.com/prefrontal-cortex-damage/#:~:text=A%20person%20with%20damage%20to

Mootoo, A. N. (2022). Students of Color and Anecdotal Pedagogy: A Success Story. Research Anthology on Racial Equity, Identity, and Privilege. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/students-of-color-and-anecdotal-pedagogy/296985

Sharaievska, I., McAnirlin, O., Browning, M. H. E. M., Larson, L. R., Mullenbach, L., Rigolon, A., D’Antonio, A., Cloutier, S., Thomsen, J., Metcalf, E. C., & Reigner, N. (2022). “Messy transitions”: Students’ perspectives on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education. Higher Education, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-022-00843-7

Simmons, D. (2017, April 18). How to Change the Story about Students of Color [Review of How to Change the Story about Students of Color]. Greater Good Science Center; Berkley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_change_story_of_students_of_color

Published By Megz “XaHara” Roberts 

May 2, 2023

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