College Students’ Future Plans Threatened by Pandemic

UVA Career Center College Future Plans
Photo: UVA Career Center

According to research published this week by Axios, three quarters of college students who lined up internships or post-graduate jobs have seen them threatened or cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. With infection rates rising and the U.S. economy suffering, many employers have postponed, eliminated, or modified the paid roles that students planned to fill. While history-making relief efforts are underway, students’ anxieties over immediate and long-term financial concerns pervade.

Axios partner College Reaction polled over 800 students currently enrolled in accredited 4-year institutions, such as the University of Virginia. Reporter Cyrus Beschloss shed light on the additional problems that university-aged students face amid the pandemic.

“Coronavirus has battered college life,” Beschloss wrote. “Students are still scrambling to stanch the cash-bleed from leaving campus in early March. As the dust settles, students must remedy massive financial, professional and social wounds. College students lost key lifelines like meal plans, dorm housing and campus healthcare when they were ordered off campus.”

Researchers found that 90% of the college students are concerned about the U.S. economy and the job market. Director of Audience & Growth Neal Rothschild explained the significance of students’ lost professional experiences.

“The summers between college years are key for the new generation of workers to gain valuable experience and contribute to the economy — and many use the summers to earn money to pay tuition,” Rothschild wrote. “Missing out could send scores of young people deeper into debt or set them back when they graduate and enter the workforce. The academic experience is also bringing on disappointment for students. 77% say distance learning is worse or much worse than in-person classes.”

In addition to their financial losses, students — especially women — reported deteriorating mental states.

“51% say they are experiencing mental health distress, with 15% reporting that they feel a great deal of it,” Rothschild wrote. “Female respondents were nearly three times as likely as male respondents to report severe mental health distress. 67% say they are concerned about the effect of social isolation.”

To help University of Virginia students cope with the pandemic, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has modified their group therapy program. With specific support groups available for graduating fourth-year students, international students, and both undergraduate and graduate populations, Student Health offers resources to help the university community through COVID-19 — even as most students have left Charlottesville for their own hometowns.

As for the University Career Center, counselors continue to offer virtual advising appointments and guide students through unplanned setbacks.

“During a global public health event, employers will recognize that there are circumstances outside your control,” Career Center online resources state. “If your internship was cancelled, we suggest reaching out to your internship coordinator to ask if they are okay with you adding the cancelled experience to your resume. Once approved, add a version of ‘Company – FUNCTION or TITLE; accepted into the internship program; internship cancelled due to COVID-19’ to your resume. If you need help articulating this professionally on your resume, make an appointment with a career counselor for help. Additionally, we recommend staying in contact with the employer who offered you an internship to understand future opportunities. You can use this time to learn a new skill or connect with alumni to explore potential career paths.”

For the full results of the Axios/College Reaction study, click here.


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