The COVID Class: How The Pandemic May Have Stunted A Generation

The COVID Class: How The Pandemic May Have Stunted A Generation

By: Ryn Swinson

When the world stopped, I was getting a burrito.

A junior in high school, I remember my classmates joked about COVID-19 affecting

other countries in 8th-period history and posted memes all over Instagram. I remember

the day perfectly, sitting at a stop sign on Chestnut Avenue, Duncan High School’s

spring break was extended by two weeks.

Two very long weeks.

While many high school students missed out on the second semester and all the frills

and thrills of the high school experience: prom, plays, concerts, sporting events, pep

rallies and even graduation, other students missed out on gaining very important

technical skills.

Understanding the basics of formatting an email and an essay are important parts both

in and out of an academic setting and many college freshmen seem to have missed out

on their lessons during their freshman year of high school. Now, many students seem to

be falling behind and lacking the proper tools to prepare them for higher education and

possible job opportunities.

In an article for the Des Moines Register, education beat reporter Samantha Hernandez

said the class of 2023 has really struggled.

“I feel like most of us feel stuck in our freshman selves and that we are not ready to

move on,” she said, “and we are kind of just forced to.”

To understand how the pandemic affected the class of 2023, I spoke with

Communication, English and Foreign Languages Associate Professor and Director of

Composition Dr. Carie Schneider about her experience with first-year students.

Schneider began teaching in 2006 and became a professor at Cameron University in

2018. Through the years she has seen many stages of students, however, Schneider

said the past two years she has seen a lot of freshmen coming into college with less

preparation due to remote learning.

“They might be coming in just as prepared in terms of knowledge, but a lot of it, they

don’t have the same level of practice of working with groups or communicating with

others,” Schneider said, “especially if they were the generation of folks that ended up

doing all of their high school or at least a big chunk of their high school, you know, fully

remote on Chromebooks without any interaction.”

Schneider also said how she believes the pandemic put many students behind, forcing

to play catch up not only academically, but also professionally.

“I think that’s really gonna have an impact on people’s college experience because

they’re hustling so hard to catch up on what they missed that they’re maybe not able to

participate as much in student life or other organizations, and I think it also puts people

behind in terms of trying to find a job because they’re also already behind,” Schneider


College puts an emphasis on being able to communicate with your peers and

professors to better prepare you for the future. Due to a lack of group assignments and

projects during the pandemic, many students missed out on developing their

communication skills which could possibly affect their communication skills in the future.

Schneider emphasized the importance of communicating with your professors and how

Many of her students in recent years seem more hesitant.

“I have definitely seen that there are people who are afraid to reach out and so I think

that does impact being able to have a close relationship with your professors where you

can ask them for help, feel comfortable reaching out to them,” Schneider said. “And if

you don’t feel comfortable reaching out and making those connections with your

professors; how are you going to feel comfortable reaching out and making connections

with future employers?”

The pandemic completely rocked the world, and economic and political instability have

made being a college student not only more difficult but more stressful for many. No

longer are fresh-faced students coming in with the same or similar skill sets as previous

classes. Faculty can no longer assume that everyone learned the same thing in high


“I think a lot of faculty need to be more prepared and more aware of the experience that

our students have gone through in the past few years and be more understanding,”

Schneider said. “Professors can’t expect students coming in in 2023 and 2024 to have

the same skill set or experience that students coming in in 2019 had.”

The past few years of Cameron have been shaky for post-pandemic students, many are

attempting to gain their bearings in a new environment, especially for the students who

spent most of their high school experience balancing virtual and traditional classes.

However, my biggest tip for incoming freshmen: turn on your auto caps.

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