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Columbia Business Monthly

Survey Reveals Pandemic's Impact on College Students' Mental Health, Remote Learning, Families' Income

Jun 24, 2020 10:33AM ● By David Dykes

A recent survey by student housing developer Core Spaces of nearly 2,500 college students throughout the United States, including the University of South Carolina, Columbia, reveals how Covid-19 has impacted them – including their mental state, sentiment about remote learning, personal and parents' finances. 

Core Spaces emailed the survey to student residents at 19 Core Spaces properties across 12 cities in 11 states. Responses were collected from June 2 to June 9.

“These important survey results speak to a wide range of ways the pandemic has impacted our young people,” said Marc Lifshin, founder and chief executive officer of Core Spaces. “Their responses provide valuable insight into how college students are hurting and what they want. More than ever, it's crucial we do our best to make sure their housing is a welcoming and safe place.”


Living preferences

Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they want to come back to campus when classes begin this fall.

Also,  72.5 percent of respondents would like to get back to their universities even if the schools continue online instruction in the fall.

 Economic impact / confidence

More than three out of five (63.3 percent) respondents said the pandemic resulted in economic difficulties for themselves and their families in the following ways:

  • Their summer job was canceled (57 percent)
  • Their summer job hours or pay were reduced (32 percent)
  • One of their parents lost his or her job (21 percent)
  • One of their parents had hours or pay reduced (55 percent).

 When it came to how students felt about their future job prospects due to the pandemic, nearly 20 percent were much less confident, and more than 40 percent were somewhat less confident. And 40 percent felt their job prospects were the same as before the pandemic.

Remote learning & studying

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said online classes had been a negative experience for them.

 Nearly eight out of 10 said they feel they'd be more successful studying remotely in their apartments versus their family’s homes.

 Confidence with being safe back at school

Ninety percent of respondents were either "very confident" (46.6 percent) or "somewhat confident" (43.4 percent) that their universities would take appropriate and available measures to help protect them and other students from spreading the virus.

 Psychological impact

Since Covid-19’s onset, students said they had experienced the following:

  • Sleep pattern has changed (76 percent)
  • Feel more anxious or stressed (75 percent)
  • Feel more depressed or worried (55.5 percent)
  • Seen a professional for physical or mental health (12 percent).

Desire for vaccine

When asked how likely they are to want a vaccine if/when it is made available, 63 percent said very likely, 25.6 percent said somewhat likely, and 11.3 percent said not likely.

 In all, there were 2,490 respondents from 19 Core Spaces properties in 12 cities and 11 states. The universities/cities, in order of the highest number of respondents, include University of South Carolina, Columbia (324); Penn State, University City, Penn. (304); *University of Florida, Gainesville (273); Michigan State University, East Lansing (231); University of Central Florida, Orlando (225); Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. (205); University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (199 – three Core properties); *University of Arizona, Tucson (192); West Virginia University, Morgantown (144); University of Oklahoma, Norman (143); *University of Kentucky, Lexington (133); University of Mississippi, Oxford (116).

[*Represents two Core properties in the same city/campus.]

 “There are so many unknowns around Covid-19," Lifshin said. “We, along with other student housing providers, need to do all we can to reduce the stress that students are feeling and increase their sense of comfort. We plan on offering a mindfulness and meditation program to our 15,000 residents starting late August – this same program had a positive impact on our own staff. We're also rolling out a wide variety of measures to consistently sanitize our buildings and continue to protect our residents.”

Core Spaces owns and/or manages 27 properties nationwide – totaling more than 12,000 beds – and has a pipeline of over 25,000 beds in various stages of development.