Much has been written about the impact of COVID-19 on members of the workforce, as business closures, work-from-home orders and disrupted supply chains become part of the new norm. But the pandemic hasn't just affected workers - it has also had a significant impact on students.
Like changes to the work environment, changes to the student experience have been challenging, but they have also allowed for positive new perspectives. In this article, let's take a closer look at the impacts of COVID-19 on young people- the exciting new paradigm shifts it has ushered in and the concerning uncertainty it has caused.
The Shift to Online Learning
One of the most significant impacts COVID-19 has had on students is the shift toward online learning. Before the pandemic, eLearning was already gaining a growing chorus of champions. Proponents of online learning, including education experts and students, preferred the flexibility, support and self-directed learning opportunities it offered. They liked that you could earn a high school diploma online while working at your own pace and studying around your busy schedule.
COVID-19 has introduced more students to the benefits of online learning. Frustrated with potentially unsafe physical school environments, many students have turned to online schools for their education. In much the same way that a sizeable number of workers now prefer working from home, many students have expressed a desire to leave the classroom and fulfill their educational requirements from the comfort of their home desks.
It's a positive paradigm shift in education - albeit one that was expedited by unfortunate circumstances.
Delays in Graduation and Disruptions to Education
Students at traditional brick-and-mortar schools experienced disruptions to their education last spring, and it remains to be seen whether students will experience further disruptions in 2021. In addition to losing valuable academic time, these disruptions caused uncertainty about university and college prospects. Thankfully, most post-secondary institutions have made assurances that disruptions will not affect students' opportunities.
Also, this past year, many schools had to delay their graduation ceremonies, depriving students of a significant rite-of-passage. Again, no one is sure whether the same will happen in 2021.
Ceremony delays and cancellations may not seem like a big deal to the adults reading, but you have to think like a student. When you have worked away at something for 12 years, that ritual goodbye means a lot. It's an opportunity to reflect on the past and greet the future.
Post-Graduation Prospects Up in the Air
If there's one thing everyone can be sure of throughout COVID-19, it's uncertainty. For students, that uncertainty is palpable, as they question what the job market will look like following the pandemic.
There's a real, valid concern among economists that entry-level job prospects will suffer as a result of COVID-19. How this will impact education - especially post-secondary education -is unclear.
There's no doubt that young people have faced, and will continue to face, unique challenges because of COVID-19. They are poised to enter the job market at a potentially disastrous time, and both their education and graduation ceremonies have suffered disappointing disruptions. But a silver lining seems to be that they have embraced online education, which could positively impact future generations of students.