A Lockdown Generation (2): The Psychological Impacts of the Coronavirus on University Students


The turmoil that the human race witnessed in 2020 was almost unprecedented. Unlike any previous epidemic, the novel coronavirus has turned the whole globe upside down; throughout the world, people suffered. The novel coronavirus had serious impacts on the human psyche and mental states. Among the groups who were deeply affected by the lockdown were university students everywhere. In an attempt to maintain social distancing and prevent crowdedness, universities around the world were locked after the outbreak of COVID-19, switching to online learning. Even though things seemed bright and shiny for students, for many the distant learning experience was not that easy.

University students had their share of worries, anxiety and depression. With classes suddenly transferred online, students found themselves facing brand new challenges. One of the biggest challenges posed by distant learning is the lack of interaction, which characterizes discussions in classrooms. Even when cameras are on, that is nothing like face-to-face interaction in which students participate with zeal and get instant feedback. It gets much worse when the cameras are off, as students find themselves interacting with a dark screen and lack their instructors’ feedback, a great deal of which is manifested in facial expressions. Things become even more challenging when the internet infrastructure is not strong enough, which results in students hearing only fragments of what their instructors say and half the sessions wasted in the latter checking if they can be heard.

These challenging sessions take place mostly in the students’ own bedrooms. This lack of change has an effect on students’ mental state; over time, they lose interest and motivation until they can barely understand what is said during online classes. Moreover, contrary to college days during which they were taught in class, studied at home, and had time for activities with their peers, students found themselves bombarded with e-mails instructing them to write assignments and prepare presentations, notifying them of a change of class time or carrying feedback on previous assignments.

Exams were another story; it seemed that online exams were the time for freezing laptops, power cuts, or internet disconnections. This was one of the biggest sources of panic for many students, especially given that they, and their teachers, had never been trained to use technology in teaching before the pandemic, and the online teaching process started suddenly without prior preparation.

Above all, students lacked a normal college life, in which they could socialize and mingle with their peers, with all its healthy psychological effects: teamwork, having coffee between sessions, going on college trips, a lot of laughter, fun, and lifelong memories. As a result of the psychological burden, mixed with the fears shared by almost everyone in their communities, students had a traumatizing experience, gasping to catch up with material, having no break from constant demands for tasks, and panicking over their exams and future.

The outbreak of COVID-19 changed our lives to the very core. In addition to its physical impacts, it has also had an effect on our mental states. Even though people differ in terms of their psychological reactions to pandemics, every one of us has had their share of tiredness. Seeing a psychiatrist is not a bad idea if you feel like that tense period, with all its woes, has already had the best of you. Exercising also can make you feel better and help you combat your laziness and despair. Scientists are working around the clock to reach solutions for the crisis; until they do, let us hope for the best and try to take stress and anxiety off our minds.


Lischer, Suzanne, et al. “Remote Learning and Students’ Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

A Mixed-Method Enquiry”. Prospects, 2021.

Mahdy, Mohamed A. A. “The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Academic Performance of Veterinary

Medical Students”. Frontiers, Vol. 7, 2020.

Taylor, Steven. The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease. Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2019.

Vos, Joel. The Psychology of COVID-19: Building Resilience for Future Pandemics. Sage, 2021.

The article was first published in print in SCIplanet, Summer/Autumn 2021 Issue.

Cover image by prostooleh on Freepik

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