Online Classes’ Effect on College Students

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Online classes, before Covid-19, were typically known as an easy way to get credits out of the way without having to work too hard for a good grade.  After university students were sent home in the spring of 2020, online classes became the new normal and for many people it was their first time taking online classes.  I was not surprised to find that online classes actually reduce student success and progress throughout college per a study done by four professors for the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  I was however surprised by the fact that the grades received in those classes and future classes were lower than if they were taken in person.

I was interested in seeing how students felt about online classes compared to the traditional in person classes since there really was not a choice at many schools.  After surveying nineteen students at various colleges, I found that 74% of these students preferred to take classes in person, which makes a lot of sense.  Truthfully, I think that in person classes are much easier to engage and perform well in because there are far fewer distractions than there are when learning online.  This was backed up by the students surveyed as 84% of them felt that they paid attention more during in person classes than online classes.  

Furthermore, I was curious as to how students felt the online classes had affected their study habits and how committed they were to their studies.  Out of the students who were surveyed, only one student said they felt their level of commitment to their studies had gotten better while three students stated that they felt they had stayed the same.  That means that fifteen of the students feel like they’re less engaged in their education due to classes being online.  

With all of this information, I think it is also very important to note that many students have taken the route of deferring their enrollment into universities due to online learning and the Covid-19 pandemic.  An article posted by Madeline St. Amour for Inside Higher Ed analyzed a study done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and reported that as of September 24, overall undergraduate enrollment is 4 percent lower than it was last fall.  The largest percentage decrease comes from first-year students, where there was a 16 percent decrease in enrollment based on roughly 54 percent of post secondary universities and institutions.  Many families understand that the risk associated with their student being on campus is much larger than the benefit a student can get.  The potential exposure to the virus alongside the fact that students aren’t receiving a normal education nor a true college experience has families deciding to have their children take a year off from school.

Covid-19 has affected all of us in one way or another and online classes are a huge part of this.  Online classes are not as effective nor engaging as traditional in person classes and I think this shows by the level of interest in classes as well the level of commitment to studying represented by the students surveyed.  While students don’t find online classes as interesting, it is something that we are stuck with for the time being as unfortunate as it is.

Furthermore, I was curious as to how students felt the online classes had affected their study habits and how committed they were to their studies.  Out of the students who were surveyed, only one student said they felt their level of commitment to their studies had gotten better while three students stated that they felt they had stayed the same.  That means that fifteen of the students feel like they’re less engaged in their education due to classes being online.  

With all of this information, I think it is also very important to note that many students have taken the route of deferring their enrollment into universities due to online learning and the Covid-19 pandemic.  An article posted by Madeline St. Amour for Inside Higher Ed analyzed a study done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and reported that as of September 24, overall undergraduate enrollment is 4 percent lower than it was last fall.  The largest percentage decrease comes from first-year students, where there was a 16 percent decrease in enrollment based on roughly 54 percent of post secondary universities and institutions.  Many families understand that the risk associated with their student being on campus is much larger than the benefit a student can get.  The potential exposure to the virus alongside the fact that students aren’t receiving a normal education nor a true college experience has families deciding to have their children take a year off from school.

Covid-19 has affected all of us in one way or another and online classes are a huge part of this.  Online classes are not as effective nor engaging as traditional in person classes and I think this shows by the level of interest in classes as well the level of commitment to studying represented by the students surveyed.  While students don’t find online classes as interesting, it is something that we are stuck with for the time being as unfortunate as it is.


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