February 8, 2022
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impacts on higher education have been widely examined as academic disruptions, social isolation, and financial instability threaten dreams of college attainment. Now, in a new study of more than 100,000 undergraduates across the nation, The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice reveals the negative implications of the COVID-19 virus for students’ health and well-being in an article published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)—one of the world’s most-cited and prestigious scientific journals.
Analyzing data from the sixth annual #RealCollege Survey, conducted at 202 colleges and universities in 42 states in the fall 2020, The Hope Center compared students based on whether or not they reported having had COVID-19. Almost 7% of students said that they had contracted the virus, a likely underestimate.
“Students are humans first, and their health affects how they do in school,” said Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, president and founder of The Hope Center. “This virus has put many at an even greater disadvantage. Higher education leaders need to proactively identify students who’ve had the virus and offer them support so they succeed in completing degrees.”
Rates of self-reported diagnosis were substantially higher among Indigenous, Latinx, and Black or African American students compared to white students. Pell recipients had higher rates of infection than non-recipients. Having children, maintaining a job, or being a student-athlete were also associated with higher risk of self-reported COVID-19 diagnosis. Infection from COVID-19 is associated with negative outcomes when it comes to students’ mental and physical health—a student who self-reported COVID-19 infection had 1.4 times greater odds of experiencing anxiety or depression and 1.7 times greater odds of experiencing food insecurity than one who did not.
Read the full article, which the journal has made available to the public, here.