College during the Pandemic: It isn’t the same

College isn’t what it used to be anymore as students are finding it harder to stay motivated during the pandemic.


The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in Irish colleges and universities closing and continuing learning online from home. Students all over the country have mixed opinions about the new online system. Some agree, some disagree.

Social Life

Usually, studying is better when you have someone next to you, helping you or asking questions. Human interaction is crucial for the absorption of knowledge. The stress a student has is influenced by the college environment, especially when the student is transitioning from secondary school to college.

A  2012 paper by Lindsay K. Wayt of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln mentions that “college students need to be able to see that their school environment offers them support to reduce the stress associated with transitioning into a changing environment.”

University College Dublin (UCD) veterinary student, Natalia Wymyslo said, “I feel like I am missing out on a big part of college life.” Irish college students are finding it mentally tough not being able to see friends, or people in general, on campus. Online learning during this pandemic is making the student social experience very different this year.



First-year college students are slightly more unfortunate than others in 2020. The pandemic struck before they had the chance to meet their classmates in person. Sihua Shang, a first-year economics student at UCD, described his experience in college as a “continuation to Leaving Cert year”.

“I don’t think I have developed any further relationships other than engaging with them through WhatsApp now and then,” Shang said.

According to statistics on the Central Statistics Office website, there have been 154 Covid-19 cases between 1 January 2021 – 2 April 2021 linked to colleges and universities. This compares to 527 incidents associated with primary and secondary schools, and 281 Covid-19 occurrences with religious and other ceremonial events. Between those dates, there have been a total of 27,740 Covid-19 cases in Ireland. A minority of the cases relate to colleges and universities.

First-year students are missing out on college life and are repeating a system that they used back in March during the Leaving Certificate. What new experience are they receiving?

Motivation and Concentration

Maintaining concentration and motivation can be very difficult when you are physically not in school or college. Having that feeling that you are a student and attending actual lectures can be a significant part of helping students stay motivated. 

UCD commerce international student, Aisling Dalby said, “If I have a 9 am class I can just watch that lecture in bed, so I’m not going to be retaining half as much information.”

“If you are not attending college in person, then it doesn’t feel like you’re there mentally,” she said.

Eileen O’Donnell and Mary Sharp conducted a survey in 2012 on third-level students in both Trinity College Dublin and Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). The research found that 75% of Trinity College students and 72% of TU Dublin students disagree that lectures are no longer crucial because “course notes available online are a good substitution”. 

The research cites a student from Trinity College Dublin as saying ‘technology should be used to augment the lectures and as a revision aid rather than replacing them. If students use this as an opportunity to skip lectures that is their prerogative.'”

This statement very much relates to the general situation in universities and institutions around Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic. The safety of the people will always be put in front of anything.

That also means sacrifices in the education of third-level students also need to be made. There are ways to control the spread of the virus while still attending lectures and tutorials. If primary and secondary schools can do it, then why can’t third-level institutions?

Are you a third-level education student in Ireland? Let us know what you think should happen with the reopening of colleges and universities.

Leonardo Parada Borda
Leonardo Parada Borda

Leo is a student journalist at the Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) who's passionate about swimming and writing. He was born in South America and is now living in Greystones, County Wicklow.

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