How the Pandemic made an Impact on College Students Mental Health

The Pandemic

The year 2020 was supposed to be a new beginning for the new decade. New resolutions and promises were made but no one would’ve ever thought the world would be entering a global pandemic. A deadly virus, known as the COVID-19 virus, was and still is spreading throughout the globe. This led to lockdowns, isolation, and social distancing which separated a lot of people from their friends and family. Many people became unemployed and students had to leave campus and continue their education at home, away from the school resources and amenities. Students have endured one of the most dramatic life changes during the Pandemic. They were stripped away from having a real, normal college experience. Unfortunately, many students have experienced mental health issues throughout the past year. Active Minds is an organizational movement that promotes mental health in young adults. They surveyed about two thousand college students and 80% reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Mental Health and Why is it so Important for College Students?

Taking care of mental health is incredibly important for students. Mental Health is defined by our psychological well-being. It also consists of our emotional and social well-being (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). All of these can affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts, and it can also help how we may be able to handle life’s problems. Realistically, mental health affects everything, which is why it’s so important for students to improve and maintain it. Students have a lot of responsibilities which tends to cause stress and anxiety that can impact our physical health (Browne). Sarah Browne, the writer of 3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important, informs her audience of what can occur if we lack the necessary treatment. It “leads to hopelessness and sadness, worthlessness, feeling guilty,  anxiety and worry, fear, and loss of control.” For students, this can lead to a decline in their performance in school and work.

How Did COVID-19 Affect College Students?

Evan Thompson revealed that the switch from face-to-face learning to remote learning is one of the “biggest triggers” for anxiety and depression. The mandated social distancing helped decrease the spread of the CoronaVirus but the lack of social interaction makes students feel excluded and disconnected (Thompson). Social interaction is important for many college students and it’s one of the main things they look forward to. Many students were kicked out of their campus living and were forced to move back home. Unfortunately, some of them were in toxic, abusive environments which emotionally and mentally drains the students. Other students found difficulty with staying consistent with a schedule and looking out for themselves.

What Are Some Ways College Students Can Improve and Maintain Their Mental Health?

The mind and body are connected, therefore the best way to start improving your mental health is by taking care of your body. Alicia Betz, writer of “How to Take Care of Your Mental Health in College,” says eating well and exercising can affect your depression, anxiety, and addiction (Betz). Betz includes a lot of helpful ways to help your mental health. Students must allow themselves to accept the reality of the pandemic and putting things in perspective can help you realize that it’s all a part of life. The biggest step a student can do is open up about their issues and get the help they need before it gets worse. It’s crucial for students to take healthy breaks from time to time. Many college students tend to overwork themselves which drains them of their energy. It’s important to exercise in any stress-relieving activities to help prevent worsening any mental illness symptoms.


The pandemic has caused a lot of unpredictable events. Many people have lost loved ones and others are struggling with financial issues. Everyone is going through their own personal battle at this time and it’s important to have patience with yourself and others. Mental Health affects everything and having patience while improving and maintaining the mind can help students accomplish their goals for school while also feeling happy with themselves.



Betz, Alicia. How to Take Care of Your Mental Health in College, Education Corder, 

Browne, Sarah. “3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 12 Jan. 2021, 

“Learn About Mental Health – Mental Health – CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Jan. 2018, 

“Statistics.” Active Minds, 2 Mar. 2021, 

Thompson, Evan. “How COVID-19 Has Impacted Student Mental Health.”, 19 Mar. 2021, 

Varying Academic Rigor in Different Post-secondary Schools.

Thanks to the experience of numerous first-generation college students (and first-generation students to-be like Ronnie Estoque), a question for many prospective students is formed when considering a post-secondary education institution (when applicable). This question is: why are some institutions more rigorous than others when they offer the same bachelor degrees? In his article posted to The Seattle Times, Estoque mentions there are “college-readiness programs” that help prepare students prepare for the academic rigor of college (Estoque). However, what exactly is college rigor, and why does it vary between institutions when they offer the same degree.

College Raptor’s Allison Wignall defines “academic rigor” as “the academic or intellectual challenge of a class” (Wignall). This is important to understand because all colleges have their own standard of academic rigor. This “standard” is likely tied to two major factors: the previous rigor of all incoming students and established reputation. Post-secondary institutions can base their own rigor off of the backgrounds of their incoming accepted students. Meanwhile, they have a previous academic rigor model to deviate from (as needed) that likely also serves as their reputational foundation. The last component would be that many higher education schools conduct research and require funding. This funding is more likely to be awarded to a more academically rigorous school than one that isn’t.

These days, with so many institutions for higher learning being present in the US, we have to acknowledge that many international students want to further their educations here besides US students. Admittedly, this creates a tougher environment for US students with higher educational standards as competing international students will “raise the bar” for requirements as they “are applying in record numbers, and are often the best and brightest from around the world” (PrepWell Academy). This is important for US students as they now must compete with their GPAs, academic rigor, and extracurricular activities against not only other US students, but now against a growing international student applicant pool. While not extremely versed in the nuances of college admissions, a higher learning institution will likely look into the academic rigor of a prospective student’s previous course load (usually from an applicant’s high school career) in their determination of whether a student will be successful at their institution or not. This is because post-secondary institutions simply do not want to accept students who will undoubtedly fail to meet the set academic standards.

While understandable, many students still felt disadvantaged as an objective assessment and comparison of their competition resulted in seeing tremendous hurdles. Wignall reminds her audience of prospective students that, “colleges prefer to see a dedication to the few, rather than only dabbling in the many” in regards to rigor versus GPA (Wignall). Post-secondary institutions don’t just want students with high GPAs, they want to see well-rounded students who appear capable of handling a wide range of commitments in order to determine whether they can handle the rigor of their course work or not. What results is the formation of a class of students that the institution deems capable of not only capable of managing, but also succeeding at the rigor of their studies. Despite this attempt by many post-secondaries to not just admit students who can only produce strong grades, many did not want to seem extremely difficult with unobtainable standards. They realized they must at least maintain the difficulty of their course work that has garnered the reputation that the institution had already made itself. However, several institutions underwent a re-examination of their academic rigor to find out whether or not their standards were too difficult.

This re-examination resulted in these institutions regarding their “standards” as being too high, which lead to a gradual decrease in their academic rigor. Due to this decrease, an article by NPR staff cited a study that said, “35 percent of students reported studying five hours per week or less, and 50 percent said they didn’t have a single course that required 20 pages of writing in their previous semester” (NPR Staff). This data suggests that students graduating from institutions of reduced rigor are less equipped to handle “real world” situations in a work environment due to a decrease in what the article claimed as part of the reason for a decline in critical thinking skills. To further this point of reduced rigor, Annie Holmquist’s article “Is College Really Getting Easier?” about another author’s article posted on The Atlantic explains that students are studying less despite grades and graduation rates are increasing (Holmquist). While one can make the argument that students are generally getting smarter, it brings our attention back towards the issue at hand of why higher learning institutions have varying levels of academic rigor when they offer the same degrees.

It is impossible to conduct an assessment into why different institutions have varying difficulties than others without factoring in additional varying factors. We get it, school is tougher for students who are trying to balance a course load that is rather rigorous than students taking easier courses. According to Wignall, the ideal answer to a situation of academic rigor versus a high GPA is to have “both” with a more realistic answer being “a balance between the two” (Wagnall). This likely translates into post-secondary education when the next group to consider your merits will be employers. However, that still doesn’t exactly explain why different schools have varying levels of academic rigor.

Different schools have varying levels of academic rigor. For an incoming student to-be like Ronnie Estoque, many had to get past a tough part that Estoque doesn’t mention: choosing a school. Despite many institutions offering the same degrees (i.e., Bachelor of Arts/ Science in Accounting, English, Finance, etc.), we objectively can see that some schools are without a doubt tougher than others. While there may be many more factors that influence why a school might be more rigorous than its competitors, we explored two selected factors: past rigor, and reputation. In my opinion, these serve as the more impactful factors, but further research could be conducted to examine if the other factors are actually more impactful.


Brennen, Amy. “Why Is It so Hard to Get into Top Universities? Here Are Three Reasons Why.” Medium, Medium, 23 Jan. 2020,

Estoque, Ronnie. “Student Voices: I’m One of the First in My Family to Attend College. Here’s How I Got There.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 2 Aug. 2017,

Holmquist, Annie. “Is College Really Getting Easier?” Intellectual Takeout, Intellectual Takeout, 25 July 2019,

NPR Staff. “A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students ‘Adrift’ In College.” NPR, NPR, 9 Feb. 2011,

“PrepWell Blog.” PrepWell Academy Why Is It so Hard to Get into College Today Comments,

“Reputation Without Rigor.” Inside Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, 19 Aug. 2009,

Wignall, Allison. “What’s Academic Rigor? Why Is It So Important? .” College Raptor, College Raptor, 18 Aug. 2020,


Research Project – Lise Xu

Lise Xu

Professor Weaver


27 April 2021

Colleges Approaching Digital Divide and Low-Income Students

            Much of education today relies heavily on digital technology compared to the “pens and papers” of the past. Even this very research project is completed electronically. Device usage in school starts in early education, where most students spend years building digital proficiency for higher education. Students are encouraged – even expected – to own some sort of electronic device with internet access, but not everyone has the privilege to do so. In his article “I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part”, Anthony Abraham Jack briefly mentions his lack of access to technology as a low-income student, highlighting the issue of the digital divide in education. The purpose of this research is to give insight into the impact of the digital divide on low-income college students and how colleges should approach this issue.

            There is no doubt that digital divide creates an academic disadvantage for low-income students. The use of technology has become an integral part of any college student’s life ranging from checking emails, registering for classes, accessing grades, etc. Success in higher education depends on the knowledge of using digital tools and services to one’s benefit. Joanna Goode in her journal “Mind the Gap: The Digital Dimension of College Access”, emphasizes the idea that the lack of access to technology in early education hurts a student’s ability to succeed in higher education. Goode believes that those from a lower socio-economic background tend to avoid utilizing technology to its fullest potential due to the embarrassment of the lack of digital experience. She then claims that “students who are not using technology are potentially at an academic disadvantage” compared to their counterparts (Goode 584). In other words, the digital divide that prompts the disadvantage for low-income students is a result of limited digital access to build technical proficiency prior to college.

In Goode’s journal, two case studies were conducted to follow up on her claim that low-income students have an academic disadvantage. The first study follows Lara, a Latina college freshman with a low-income background. In high school, she never utilized computers since she had no access to the internet despite having a device. Her teachers also had limited experience with digital programs, leaving her with minimal self-taught knowledge to survive college assignments. Lara was unaware of her university’s virtual resources as no one told her about them. Her experience is the opposite of the experience of Scott from the second case. Scott has a more advantageous background, having worked with computers since 4th grade. His high level of proficiency was built throughout the years and allowed him to utilize his knowledge to the maximum in college. In this case, Scott was aware of his university’s virtual resources, which saved him time and money that Lara did not have the opportunity to get. Based on these two students’ experiences, “schools need to be guided by universities to better prepare students for the high-tech demands of campus life” (Goode 607). Those with a low-income background cannot succeed without support from universities, whether it starts from early education or when students are on campus.

There has always been an assumption that the digital divide exists due to the lack of unlimited access to technology and Wi-Fi. The obvious solution is to have an institution provide devices and online access to all students to allow everyone equal opportunity. Buford L. McWright believed there was more to the digital divide besides the lack of access. He conducted a study with students of various races and economic backgrounds and documented his findings in the article “EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AT A DISTANCE Is Access to Technology Enough?” The study itself concluded with the idea that “providing access…may be a necessary” but it is not sufficient enough to ensure “students will improve their skills and develop more positive attitudes toward technology” (McWright 171). Digital divide hurts low-income students by interfering with their opportunities to build technical skills. Even if colleges did provide unlimited access, these students would not benefit much more due to their lack of experience.

Going into higher education, college students will have various degrees of digital readiness due to their diverse backgrounds. Digital divide and education inequalities affect each student’s digital literacy, with low-income students suffering the consequences of having less digital knowledge. This concept is introduced through a study in Nicole Buzzetto-Hollywood, et al.’s journal “Addressing Information Literacy and the Digital Divide in Higher Education.” The journal addresses the belief that many in higher education assume students are already proficient in digital learning and technology to be successful, therefore “rendering additional coursework unnecessary” (Buzzetto-Hollywood, et al. 89). That hurts low-income students as colleges will spend less time and resources providing digital assistance with their generalizing belief. Higher education institutions should instead focus on examining digital literacy skills and the needs of all students, followed by providing resources for these students to improve their technical capabilities by the time they graduate.

As education continues to digitalize, the academic inequalities low-income students experience will keep growing. The main concern revolves around the lack of experience these students have with technology and digital programs that would otherwise help them through higher education. As technology evolves and new complicated programs emerge, low-income students are left in the dust without proper support. Colleges should take into consideration every student’s digital literacy skills and technical backgrounds to provide efficient programs that can bridge the academic inequality between students.

Works Cited

Buzzetto-Hollywood, Nicole, et al. “Addressing Information Literacy and the Digital Divide in Higher Education.” Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning & Learning Objects, vol. 14, Jan. 2018, pp. 77–93. EBSCOhost, doi:10.28945/4029.

Goode, Joanna. “Mind the Gap: The Digital Dimension of College Access.” Journal of Higher Education, vol. 81, no. 5, Sept. 2010, pp. 583–618. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00221546.2010.11779068.

Jack, Anthony Abraham. “I was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.” New York Times, Sept. 20, 2019. 

MCNAMEE, T. Y., et al. “Don’t Forget About Rural Higher Education Students: Addressing Digital Inequities During COVID-19.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 7, May 2020, pp. 12–13. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=a9h&AN=143444985&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

McWright, Buford L. “EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AT A DISTANCE Is Access to Technology Enough?” Quarterly Review of Distance Education 4, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 167.,shib&db=a9h&AN=10049797&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

How the College Financial Aid System Makes it Harder to Attend College

After high school, nearly 66.2 % of high school students in America immediately attend college, university, or some type of higher education. In recent years, prices of college tuition have skyrocketed making it increasingly difficult for students of low to middle-class families to afford. However, while college tuition prices continue to rise, financial aid available at the state and federal levels continue to stay the same or even decrease. This discrepancy in the system results in students not being able to attend colleges of their dreams or graduating with years of loans piled up.

For several years students have filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to earn college aid which is based on several factors including parent’s income, student’s income, and assets. This form is the primary source for the government to issue scholarships and grants to students with a limited budget for college. However, over the years this system has proven to be very ineffective. This five-page and 127 question form “is slightly longer than the IRS Form 1040 and substantially longer than forms 1040EZ and 1040A” (Dynarski and Scott-Clayton, 109). For typical households, this form is extremely long and more complicated than federal tax returns. Complexity in this form has caused several students deserving of aid to forgo potential scholarships by not filling it out because they are not able to navigate the form. As shown by Jennie Crucet in Taking My Parents To College, first-generation students don’t have support from parents to fill out these forms and must navigate it themselves. 

The complexity in the FAFSA “arises from efforts to precisely measure a student’s ability to pay for college” (Dynarski and Scott-Clayton, 119). To determine if this was accurate Dynarski and Judith performed a study to determine the effectiveness of each section of the FAFSA by emitting sections of the profile and determining how that impacts the money granted to families. They were interested in seeing if the length of the form was truly beneficial in giving a proper in-depth analysis of a student’s financial situation. Using the National Postsecondary Student Aid, the authors studied 56,440 undergraduate federal aid applicants and computed student’s expected contribution with student’s adjusted gross income, other income, subtracting a few allowances, and applying a 50% assessment rate. These “predicted aid values were extremely close to their actual values” showing how the extra sections of the FAFSA form are not needed. (Dynarski and Scott-Clayton, 122) Through their research, they found that “only a handful [of questions] have any substantial effect on the distribution of student aid” (Dynarski and Scott-Clayton, 120).

Besides the complexity of the form, the percentage of students attending college increased, and thus as money is being spread over a wider range of people, fewer people are getting sufficient aids. While this is impacting several classes and ethnicities of people, students from middle-class families are taking a substantial amount of the impact. Since students from high-class families can cover most of the tuition from out-of-pocket money and students from low-class families are a priority in aid, it creates a system where students from middle-class families are not able to pay. They are told by the government they can afford college although, in reality, most middle-class students can not cover tuition for top-tier colleges with expensive tuition costs. In the article Trying to Climb a Broken Ladder, Clark describes how more students require financial aid as a result of skyrocketing tuition prices. Clark also discusses the “mysterious” way funds are distributed as there is no structure or conventional method. She specifically covers how students lucky enough to get acceptance into top-tier colleges must give up their seats as the government overestimates what their family can pay as a result of insufficient funds.

Federal aid and grants hold several disadvantages for middle-class families. The middle class takes up nearly half of the American population while some are on the border of the low-middle class. While grants and aids were created to help lower-income families send their children to college, they often neglect families on the other side of the cut-off line. Zaloom describes how this system is creating a barbell structure where lower-income families receive aid and upper-income families can cover costs from their own pockets leaving middle-class families too rich for aid and too poor to afford college. Currently, the FAFSA is ineffective but the system can be fixed by shortening the FAFSA and redesigning the questions to be concise and effective. While these are only the initial issues of college tuition and funding, they are necessary problems to fix to allow more middle-class students to go to college without excessive financial troubles.


Dynarski, Susan M., and Judith E. Scott-Clayton. “Complexity and Targeting in Federal Student Aid: A Quantitative Analysis.” NBER/Tax Policy & the Economy (University of Chicago Press), vol. 22, July 2008, pp. 109–150. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1086/651217.

Clark, Kim. “Trying to Climb a Broken Ladder.” U.S. News & World Report, vol. 145, no. 6, Sept. 2008, pp. 65–74. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=bth&AN=34274790&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Caitlin Zaloom. Indebted : How Families Make College Work at Any Cost. Princeton University Press, 2019. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=2043376&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Crucet, Jennine Capó. “Taking My Parents to College.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2015,


Lejla Alijevics’s Research Paper

Lejla Alijevic


Prof. Weaver

English 1102 Section 400

Research Paper

Do children prefer to stay in contact with their parents when they start off to college?


For 12 years, kids go to elementary, middle, and high school looking forward to their high school graduation. High school graduation is an important event for kids to take the next step in their career. It is the purpose to see or figure out what is their academic self. For 12 years, kids live with their parents with their caring, support, and advice. After high school graduation, it is common for kids to go live in a dorm but do parents still stay in touch? Do children still need the caring, support, and advice after moving out of their houses?

In their article, “Staying Involved in Your Teen’s Life Without Becoming a Helicopter Parent” in Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (2018), Leslie A. Kimball, shared how parents feel, “As parents, we love and worry about our children from the moment they’re born. As they grow into adolescence, their academic and social lives become more complicated and competitive” (1). Students are needed to have parents in their life but not as a helicopter parent as Kimball is trying to explain in her article. Parents need to prepare their children for the future by being present, not overbearing or intrusive. It is their responsibility to let their children have failure and use it as a lesson. You want to let them figure out how to get back up.

When it comes to starting in college, kids are excited to live in the dorm without hearing their parents giving them chores and others that can be listed. There are multiple things that they are looking forward to, considering they want their freedom. Sometimes they do not understand the importance and reality in their term of “freedom”. If an issue involves immediate safety concerns, it is a suggestion for parents to step in. Kimbell in fact shared tips for parents that were given to keep support and allow children also to keep each other in touch. The tips are, “Focus on relationships, identify and highlight strengths, address skill deficits, set realistic expectations, and listen and be curious” (Kimbell, 1).

Helicopter parents in my term mean parents being overprotective and not finding the right balance to encourage in their children’s lives. It denies children of developing critical thinking skills, resiliency, and stress management. Parents have a huge impact on their children’s lives from early adolescence well into adulthood. If parents are overly involved in their child’s life, it can have the opposite effect and harm them in the end. It is not what children would look forward to after high school. Parental involvement is necessary for a child’s life, but helicopter parenting is ultimately harmful because of the controlling style that can damage the relationship.

Written by Chloe Bennett, “What Is Helicopter Parenting and Why Is It Bad?” in News Medical Life Sciences (2018), reported “College students who reported that their parents were actively involved in their school work, or created very structured environments during their youth, were more likely to have depression and anxiety as an adult, and were less perseverant” (1). Her main point offers the reader to understand the reality that being a helicopter parent varies differently depending on one’s social status. It is very common for college students to suffer from depression and anxiety. This shows how it is important for both children and parents to understand on how to make a difference in the issues and be supportive in the future or now. It is never too late to feel connected with your children to keep in contact as a friend under the title of a mom or dad.

In my belief with research, children want to have their parents keep in contact after high school when they do not know it. At the same time, they can make their decision on whether to keep in touch or not depending on what role their parents decide to take. “Helicopter parenting can influence not only the psychological well-being of children, but also their social behavior” (Bennett,1). Our overall goal is to improve students’ academic success. It is the purpose to encourage children to explore careers that will best suit his or her interests and strengths. Children want a positive energy from their parents. It is a feeling they desire the most, for parents to believe in their children without being a pushy and overwhelming parent. If you are reading this paper and is a student, would you like to stay in contact with your parents after high school dealing with your academic? For you to think about the pros and cons and list base of what this paper shared. It is to see what role your parents have been throughout the whole 12 years in your life. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings” was said by Ann Landers.



Bennett, Chloe. “What Is Helicopter Parenting and Why Is It Bad?” News Medical Life Sciences, 23 Aug. 2018, 

Kimball, Leslie A. “Staying Involved in Your Teen’s Life without Becoming a Helicopter Parent.” Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, 7 Dec. 2018,


Leyla Ahmic Research Project

Leyla Ahmic

ENGL 1102 Section 400

April 27, 2021

Research Project



            “What percentage of first-generation college students graduate from college?”

            The United States is home to a large number of first-generation college students. A lot of first-generation students in the nation struggle with getting a college education. Those who do make it to college, have a hard time staying in college and graduating. This is due to a lack of resources, motivation, and financial aid. After reading “Taking My Parents to College” by Jennine Capó Crucet and “I’m One of the First in My Family to attend College. Here’s how I did it.” by Ronnie Estoque, it is clear that a lot of first-generation students are not provided with sufficient information regarding how to make the transition to college, nor are they given enough resources on how to financially support themselves so that they are able to graduate from college.

According to “National Data Fact Sheets.” Center for First-Generation Student Success, in the school year 2015-2016, 56% of undergraduate students in the United States were first-generation students, and 59% of those students were the first of their siblings to go to college in the United States. (National Data Fact Sheets) Center for First-Generation Student Success states that 89% of low-income first-generation students leave college without a degree in six years. More than a quarter leave after their first year, which is four times higher than their other peers. (National Data Fact Sheets) First-generation students are not provided with the right resources to help them with their college education, or they are not aware of what resources exist for them to use. “Factsheets.” PNPI, 1 Feb. 2021, states that “First-generation students demonstrated lower rates of college readiness in key academic areas compared to their non-first-generation peers. This put them at a higher risk of failing out of college.” (PNPI 6) According to PNPI, 1 Feb. 2021 first-generation students also have a lower average household income and more unmet financial needs than their peers whose parents attended college. (PNPI 6) These factors make it harder for first-generation students to stay and graduate from college. Center for First-Generation Student Success states that “In their first year in postsecondary education, a higher percentage of first-generation than continuing-generation students used financial aid services, but lower percentages used health, academic advising, and academic support services.” Most first-generation students’ main concern is financial aid. The majority of first-generation students are not able to attend college or stay in college because of financial reasons. Although it is important that first-generation students are seeking out sources that help them financially, it is also just as important that they seek academic advising and academic support services.

            For many first-generation students, English is not their first language. According to PNPI, 1 Feb. 202, about 20% of first-generation students’ first language is not English, which makes it even more complicated for them to stay and graduate from college. In the article, “I’m One of the First in My Family to attend College. Here’s how I did it.” by Ronnie Estoque, he lists overcoming language barriers as one of his pieces of advice for first-generation students. Estoque explains how parents of first-generation students have a hard time understanding why their child needs to see their tax reports. This is due to language barriers and miscommunication between both the parents and the students. In Estoque’s article, Andy Huynh describes his experience of applying for a FAFSA with his Chinese-speaking parents. He says that he wishes that more support was offered to students who don’t know how to translate and explain the importance of the FAFSA to their parents who might not speak English. (Estoque 15)

            In Estoque’s article, he also explains that maintaining motivation is important in achieving a college education. Naturally, every student who attends college will experience a lack of motivation in their studies sooner or later. When someone is a first-generation student though, one may experience a greater lack of motivation due to worries regarding financial stability and other academic support. Many first-generation students do not finish college because they feel as if they have a better chance of getting a job instead of spending their money on a college education. Seeking out financial aid as a first-generation student in the US at such a young age can get very overwhelming for students, which leads to them feeling even more unmotivated and very discouraged to continue going to school. In the article on PNPI, 1 Feb. 2021, a study at Pell Institute was conducted and showed that the average amount of unmet financial need for first-generation students was $6,000, half of their average annual income. Because of this, first-generation students had to work more and borrow more than their peers, leading to “negative consequences for college completion.” (PNPI 6) As Estoque states in his article, a lot of people view first-generation students as having a greater advantage over the college admissions process because of their struggles. (Estoque 7) Estoque encourages readers to not let that bring them down and to transform that into self-motivation.

            The number of first-generation students who aren’t graduating from college is higher than their other peers because of reasons like financial aid, lack of motivation, and lack of academic resources. First-generation students have to figure out everything on their own which can be tough and discouraging considering factors like financial aid and language barriers. More resources and more help need to be provided to first-generation to help them succeed in college, and furthermore, succeed in life after college.



“Factsheets.” PNPI, 1 Feb. 2021, 

“National Data Fact Sheets.” Center for First-Generation Student Success, 

Estoque, Ronnie. “Student Voices: I’m One of the First in My Family to Attend College. Here’s How I Got There.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 2 Aug. 2017, 

Research Paper: How Has The Pandemic Affected Student Mental Health?

Emma-Leigh Barfield

Professor Weaver

ENGL 1102

27 April 2021


School has always been a challenge whether it is taking a difficult class or learning how to time manage; however, no student is ever prepared to change everything they have ever known about school. When students entered the 2020 school year, the difficulties ahead would change the way they attend school for a while. With this, students began struggling with their mental health while trying to adapt to this different school environment. 

No student or professor expected to live and go to school during a global pandemic. No one was prepared for the way classes would be shifted to online or taking extreme social distancing measures. Many elements were taken into account that affected the mental health of many college students and professors during the pandemic, such as relocation, social distancing, financial issues, personal health, family matters, struggles with online school, the list continues. In a study by the Journal of Psychiatric Research about college students’ mental health, the many factors, especially with relocation, caused students to suffer from loneliness, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Conrad, Rachel C). With approximately 26 million U.S. college students that faced a change with school during the pandemic, the numbers of mental health struggles skyrocketed. Many college students did not have ways to cope with these struggles and with the transition at their colleges, those students struggled to find help. By not being able to find help, students faced life struggles while also having to live with the stress of the new era of school. According to a study by Erick Baloran, 48.3% of students constantly stress about their classes during lockdown while 62.64% worry about food or their financial status. (Baloran, Erick T). With this information, we can see that some college students did not only struggle with just challenges at school but also life outside of school. Relocations put some college students in financial struggles. With the overwhelming elements that have affected students’ mindsets during the pandemic, the only way we can all get through it is together.

Every student faced some sort of change during the pandemic. Some may have even felt alone like no one understood them; however, this pandemic taught many people that this is not the time to ignore one another, but to help one another, socially distanced. An article by Nina L. Komar and Suniya S. Luther states “Moving forward, it will be more important than ever for all schools to remain highly vigilant about their school community’s mental health and to keep a pulse on the well-being of children as well as adults.” (Komar, Nina L) Schools and communities need to come together and focus on the mental health of students and faculty during this time. Many schools have taken these opportunities that would help improve the mental health of students, such as mental health days or turning school weeks into four days instead of five to let students catch up on work. Komar and Luther also discuss how we need to alter schools and communities by keeping constant communication, prioritizing mental health, giving frequent feedback, and moving forward (Komar, Nina L). Some students, however, might not be in the presence of a community that can do this. There are some things that struggling students can do to ease their mental health. 

With some students not having the support or resources for their mental health, they are left feeling stranded and alone. Some of these students do not know where to start. In the article “The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students” stressed out students can take these measures to improve their mental health. First, students need to Embrace Your Vulnerability starting with “be okay with not being okay. You may be facing challenges with your mental health. And that’s okay” (“The Ultimate Guide”). The first step to change is to identify what the problem is and how you need to improve that part of your life. The article then moves on to the second step, adding Self-Dialogue in Your Day-to-Day Life. By changing the way we think and tricking our minds into loving the feeling of change, students can improve their mental health difficulties by telling themselves they need this change to grow. The third step, Cover The Basics, is suggesting to students that their well-being is the most important in their life and to take time for yourself so anything thrown at you can be tackled easily. The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students states “A healthy diet, 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and at least 30 min of moving your body each day will keep your body more prepared to handle whatever comes your way” (“The Ultimate Guide”). Moving on to step four, Reach Out To Your Support Group, whether it is a close friend or an actual support group, the article suggests engaging with these people that want to help you because they might need your help as well. Lastly, Guided Journaling can help improve mindsets and mental health problems. I think guided journaling is very beneficial. Everyone’s minds are constantly filled with the many things we remember throughout the day and sometimes it can become a bit too much. Taking this time to relax and write down the problems or situations in your head so you can see them. I always thought of it as I can not see what it is in my head so when I write it down, I can see it and know how to feel about it. This article, The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students, gives a great five-step guide on little things students and even faculty can do to build up their mental health.

Many factors were put into the stress on student’s mental health during the pandemic. If we start prioritizing mental health in schools and communities, we can come together in a time of need and help those who need it. Students can even follow some steps to add to their daily routines to improve their mental health for the future. No one planned on student mental health struggles being at a peak while going through a pandemic, but the only way we will get through it is together, socially distanced, of course.


Works Cited


Baloran, Erick T. “Knowledge, Attitudes, Anxiety, and Coping Strategies of Students during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Loss & Trauma, vol. 25, no. 8, Dec. 2020, pp. 635–642. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15325024.2020.1769300. Accessed 19 April 2021.


Conrad, Rachel C., et al. “College Student Mental Health Risks during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications of Campus Relocation.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 136, Apr. 2021, pp. 117–126. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.01.054. Accessed 19 April 2021.


  “The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students.” DiveThru, 29 Mar. 2021, Accessed 24 April 2021.

KOMAR, NINA L., and SUNIYA S. LUTHAR. “SEEDS OF RESILIENCE: Insights from School Surveys on Student and Faculty Mental Health during the Pandemic.” Independent School, vol. 80, no. 1, Fall 2020, pp. 62–67. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=a9h&AN=146355236&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 19 April 2021.

Latino First-Generation College Students

Graciela Rivas Araujo

English 1102-Section 3030-Weaver

Major Project 4: Research Paper                                                                                       

April 27, 2021



Latino first-generation college students constantly go through conflicts and barriers to pursue post-secondary education and collectivist behavior demands within the Latino community. Access to opportunities is still challenging to reach out to for most of these students and communities. Latino first-generation students make up the minorities in most colleges, yet it is still twice as hard as for opportunities compared to their White non-first-generation peers. This research will gather information and gain a perspective from the unfamiliarity of lack of access while applying to college and the emotions that many of these students experience through post-secondary education.


In the article “Culture and Community: Perspectives from First-Year, First-Generation-in-College Latino Students”, the authors said, “ Latino students face many college access issues, and they are typically less academically prepared for college than other groups.” (Clayton, Ashley B., Medina, Mary C., Wiseman, Angela M.,) This quote shows that the process of applying for college isn’t as easy for many. The transition from high school to college takes a lot of work and dedication to pursue the things these students’ families are not familiar with. There have been issues such as the financial assistance application process. In the article of Culture and Community, authors quoted, “ The nature and quality of college assistance can vary greatly across high schools, leaving some students with less support to pursue post-secondary education.” ( Martinez & Deil-Amen, 2015; Perna et al., 2008). Latino first-generation students typically come from a background where education and college are a priority. Still, generally, these students don’t have the needed help both at home and in school. The absence of aid can cause many not even to try to apply for school. This application process in itself is pretty complicated for most students. Even so, many do still overcome these barriers. 

In Latino homes, family is an essential aspect of life. Most of the time, parents and families express emotional detachment and are clueless about their kids attending college. In the article, “‘Why Not Me?’ College Enrollment and Persistence of High-Achieving First-Generation Latino College Students” the author stated, “Parents may have concerns related to their children leaving their homes, paying for college, the need to attend college full-time, and the admissions process.”(Vega, Desireé). Families of first-generation typically don’t have access to the resources needed to understand better how and why things happen in the transition to college. Latino first-generation students also carry guilt and loneliness for letting go of family values to continue their education. The pressure to continue to receive education and work for it often conflicts with giving the family the title. “Latino youth from immigrant families want to repay their parents by doing well in school. Therefore, these students are caught between two conflicting definitions of family obligation: aiding the family directly and aiding the family in a long-term sense by doing well in school.” (Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda). Degrees in Latino homes usually mean a degree for mom and dad and whoever else is involved. It is challenging to balance it and an issue that many don’t shine a light on.

Guilt and loneliness lead to the issue of mental health in college while being a first-generation Latino student. Many college students do suffer greatly from mental health issues. Still, it is known that students who identify as “first-generation” have struggled more with the transition to college, having a social life, and dealing with the concept of family values. Also, in the article: “The Impact of Family and Friends Social Support on Latino/a First-Generation College Students’ Perceived Stress, Depression, and Social Isolation.” the authors of this article quoted, “First-generation college students are particularly susceptible to depression as a result of academic and financial responsibilities, feelings of isolation in an unfamiliar university community, and the lack of supportive environment from family members.” (Darling,1999; Dennis et al., 2005; Wan, 2016). This article shines a light on the many health concepts that many colleges don’t typically touch on. There are always opportunities for counseling in colleges, except for students with cultural backgrounds, especially first-generation students, who fear reaching out or not knowing where to go or whom exactly to talk to.  First-generation Latino students go through this fairly often in their journey to college and have to do with other underlying problems.


While researching this topic,  it is clear that obstacles often appear for many. It can be challenging to understand that students from immigrant families and cultural backgrounds have struggles that many do not realize. This is especially true for first-year-first-generation college students. It is crucial to put forth more opportunities and easier access to resources that can be useful for students and their families. With rising numbers of successful and devoted students, it has been proven possible! Many have already proved to their communities and families that it can be done no matter the struggle. College students all struggle the same but acknowledging that some “struggle” a little more can improve the number of resources that the educational system places on its students.

Works Cited Page

Clayton, Ashley B., Medina, Mary C., Wiseman, Angela M., “Culture and Community: Perspectives from First-Year, First-Generation-in-College Latino Students.” Journal of Latinos & Education, vol. 18, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 134–150. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15348431.2017.1386101.

Vega, Desireé. “‘Why Not Me?’ College Enrollment and Persistence of High-Achieving First-Generation Latino College Students.” School Psychology Forum, vol. 10, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 307–320. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=eue&AN=121047769&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda, Greenfield, Patricia M., Burgos-Cienfuegos, Rocio, “Exploring Home-School Value Conflicts: Implications for Academic Achievement and Well-Being Among Latino First-Generation College Students.” Journal of Adolescent Research, vol. 30, no. 3, May 2015, pp. 271–305. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0743558414561297.

Suwinyattichaiporn, Tara, and Zac D. Johnson. “The Impact of Family and Friends Social Support on Latino/a First-Generation College Students’ Perceived Stress, Depression, and Social Isolation.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Oct. 2020, p. 1. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1538192720964922.

Research Paper

Young Ahn

English 1102


Research Paper



 As we live in the advanced era, the level of consciousness of people has changed, also the living environment is changing accordingly. Along with this, the method of education is diversifying, online education, where students can study according to a student’s schedule without the time and free from the limitations of time and place without restrictions. What are the pros and cons of studying online? I want to summarize the results of browsing sources.

 In our changed lives, the way of education is also changing. In the past, students were permitted a choice by attending only one designated place at one specific time to receive an education. Still, nowadays, receiving an education is more diverse, and by allowing the student to meet the students’ schedule at the desired time and the way they want. A sudden outbreak of Corona 19 in 2019 left people isolated, and it is imperative for online education to be reorganized with a number of learning programs or as a safeguard against reactivation of the pandemic. With the increasing access to online education under the pandemic, there must be some downside to it as well.

 Bentley stated that “And again proving that necessity is the mother of invention, two U.S. universities, Duke and New York University (NYU), with Chinese campuses closed due to COVID-19, in only a few weeks moved their courses online so they didn’t have to cancel the whole semester.”(Bentley 33-36) With the outbreak of Corona 19, Duke and Cornell University said they were able to save classes that are reaching the end of it by quickly closing campuses for Chinese students and shifting them to online. In other words, if there was no school’s quick response, the few lessons could not be completed and could be delayed. This article by Kip is asking questions about how COVID-19 could spread in the United States and its impact on schools and students. As a solution to these emergencies, he has limited some countermeasures, saying that using a variety of programs, for example, students should use a learning management system such as Blackboard and Canvas, to support students whose classes can move online and to strengthen their capabilities.


 Online education, which seems to have only the positive side, also has negative sides as well. Jordan Friedman, an independent journalist based in New York, writes about higher education and is currently responsible for content marketing for US news, claims that only 60% of students who switch to online education say they are ready for this change. 64% of students showed a negative view of online learning, which requires self-management. After starting online school, various problems such as a learning gap due to non-face-to-face learning have occurred. It means that students are not ready to switch to pivot yet. It is unlikely that students will be able to stop their studies just because a sudden crisis struck, so it will have to be resolved through constant support from the school.

 (Mayer) “A college degree is often viewed as a key step toward better employment and higher earnings. Many community college students, however, never graduate and cannot reap the financial benefits associated with a college degree.” (Mayer) Lack of rigorous evidence regarding the effect of financial aid on graduation rates and employment outcomes. Research suggests that interventions offering financial assistance can improve students’ academic progression in some instances in the short term. Still, we know very little about the long-term consequences of such interventions. The higher your level of education, the better your income and life will be. Generally, this means that the time and effort invested in obtaining an education cannot be guaranteed. However, as our life spans increase, the period during which we are employed becomes longer, and the quality of life does become more secure. The chances of getting a job are enhanced if you earn a bachelor’s degree since the vast majority of jobs in the United States will still require a two-year degree or higher.

 A college education is absolutely necessary to increase one’s value and enjoy financial freedom. Many students invest their time and money in studying, but only a small number of students reach their coal. According to this journal( Mayer & Patal & Gutierrez 1 “Year Degree and Employment Findings From a Randomized Controlled Trial of a One-Year Performance-Based Scholarship Program in Ohio.”), 66.6% of students admitted in 2003-2004 did not receive a degree even though they spent six years in college. Thus, even low-income families must earn a degree to increase their income. It implies that studying is not the only way to achieve financial prosperity and academic success.


 The CNN writer Anna Bhaney covers investments and real estate, focusing on Bitcoin and traditional, alternative, and real estate markets, explaining why it is still necessary to continue studying despite these difficulties. In her article titled, “College graduates earn $30,000 more per year than people with only a high school degree.“ The average college graduate earns $78,000 a year compared to the $45,000 earned by someone with only high school education, according to the analysis. That’s a 75% premium, or more than $30,000 a year.” As such, she says, although it indeed takes a lot of money and time to get a degree, in the long run, the benefits outweigh the cost. The overall value of the degree continues to rise, she explains, and the time and effort spent earning a degree will be rewarded over time.


 The research is based on the study of COVID-19, which has hit our society this time. This study also included schools that were in crisis. It explains the reality we have come across and offer various ways of dealing with the pandemic crisis, as well as the challenges that arise with it as we try to convert the study method to online while still remaining true to the idea of adapting to it and explaining why we should pursue it. Through this, we learned the reason why the educational method we will receive in the future is to be pivoted online, and accordingly, we learned a lesson that no matter how hard it is, we should not stop educating ourselves.



Bentley, Kipp. “Is the Coronavirus a Watershed Moment for Ed Tech and Online Learning?” GovTech, GovTech, 10 Mar. 2020,


Friedman, Jordan. “Tackle Challenges of Online Classes Due to COVID-19.” U.S News, May 4 2020,


Mayer, Alexander K.1, Patel, Reshma2 Gutierrez, Melvin2. “Year Degree and Employment Findings From a Randomized Controlled Trial of a One-Year Performance-Based Scholarship Program in Ohio.”   2016


Bahney Anna CNN Business. “College Grads Earn $30,000 a Year More than People with Just a High School Degree.” CNN, 6 June 2019,

Sydney’s Research Project

Sydney Davis

ENGL 1102

Professor Rebecca Weaver


Research paper on Will virtual learning takeover in person classes?

Over years computers and other electronics have improved and increased in today’s world in many aspects. People don’t use electronics anymore for just leisure they are starting to use it even more for business, school and much more! The world as of today depends on electronics more than anything! For example, during this Covid pandemic society has relied on electronics to get through everything especially when it comes to school for students. It helped students and teachers to be able to still learn and teach while doing social distancing. With change it can be a pro and a con, but will Virtual learning outcome be a pro or con?

Virtual learning has increased comfortability and convenience in classrooms now. Imagine the students that are too shy to ask a question in front of the class , now they won’t have to because one they can easily message their professor about any questions that they have or even because their classmates aren’t in the same space as them so it isn’t all eyes on them. A major benefit is that Nikki Eye pointed out that “students can be logged in from anywhere in the world.” (Eye, 1) Students can log on their phones to check grades and assignments at one easy touch! With every benefit it’s always a downfall somewhere around, because with convenience it can also become complicated also.  What if a student has bad Wi-Fi or in a dead zone and there is an assignment due, what does the student do then? Most of the time it’s either a late grade which takes point away from the assignment or even just plain out a fail. Then again that’s where comfortability comes in place, where students can ask their professor for more time because of their situation with Wi-Fi. It’s easier for students to ask questions through email then face to face, less intimidating.

What we also must take in consideration is that with comfortability it takes away from teachers and students socializing with one another. How do you build up a relation with your classmate when it’s time to do a group project or how do you build a relationship with your teacher when you need more time on a project? Well Ashley Brooks pointed put a good point that “It’s not ideal for a student to sit alone with their computer throughout their entire degree program” (Brooks. 1) Because there are no interactions of no sort it makes the student discouraged. Brooks also makes a point to make online class better is to “I recommend making an extra effort to get to know your digital classmates. You could organize a group video hangout and do icebreakers or facilitate a conversation.”” (Brooks, 1) Is it different yes, but it can make virtual learning ten times better. But then again you have camera phones that do video calls which can build relation, but does it take away from the relationship part that you should have in class settings? It’s a fifty percent that video relations can ease some students into being interactive and then it can also hurt a students social interaction also.

If higher education was fully virtual learning it would take away the experience of college life on campus. It would be cheaper in some aspect, but it would break the tradition that most students look forward to when graduating college. Without having a social life in school, it can possibly hurt the student’s academics which “social isolation shows up as a main reason for students to withdraw from their studies.” (Eye, Page 1). Academics are a big part of school, but students look for a social interaction also, it makes school fun for students but without that it’s just boring! Imagine teachers trying to make class assignments fun through virtual learning and then imagine teachers doing a fun assignment in person class, it’s a major difference and every class needs that social interaction.

A big consideration that we must take in consideration is students with learning disabilities. It’s already an obstacle for those students to learn in class, so to put them on virtual could be very hard. In a study students were asked how their attention level was while doing virtual learning and most said “they were distractible and had difficulty focusing on what they were doing” (N. Hollins, A. R. Foley,612) Imagine students that have ADHD who have trouble staying focus and now they are forced to do virtual learning which is low support for them. For professors it can be hard because how do they get the attentions of their students who need it the most through virtual? In some aspect’s students will get distracted by just a color or too much words on a computer screen, which it can make pretty hard for a student to focus. Virtually it would be a failure for any student to strive.

It’s not impossible for complete virtual learning, but it can be if all students from aspects aren’t accommodated. When thinking virtual learning you must take a lot of things into consideration like, finances, learning disabilities, dead zones, and social interactions. It is a long way to go before learning will ever be fully virtual. 


Annotated Bibliography


Wang, Y., & Decker, J. (2014). Can virtual schools thrive in the real world? TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 58(6), 57–62.

Hollins, Nancy, and Alan Foley. “The Experiences of Students with Learning Disabilities in a Higher Education Virtual Campus.” Educational Technology Research & Development, vol. 61, no. 4, Aug. 2013, pp. 607–624. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9302-9.

eye, nikki. “Online Learning in the Time of COVID-19: What Are the Pros and Cons?” Scholarship America, 4 Aug. 2020,

Brooks, A. (2019, January 14). Breaking down the pros and cons of online classes. Retrieved April 27, 2021, from