- 4 min read -
Part 1: How High School Students are Dealing with COVID-19
We recently sat down with ten high school students from across the United States in an intimate focus group to discuss various topics related to COVID-19 and higher education media topics. You can watch the videos below!
As we work our way into the summer months of 2020, the impacts of COVID-19 continue to impact communities across the globe. We sincerely hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these challenging times and our continued thoughts are with all those who have been directly and indirectly affected by the spread.
Throughout the progression of this pandemic, safety measures have grown to an unprecedented level with the implementation of rarely-seen protocols and restrictions, especially to Gen-Zs. The closing of schools, businesses and public events has created a seismic shift in the way we operate on a daily basis and limited the activities we’re able to do. It has also changed the way we interact.
As higher-education marketers, reaching your target audience can be challenging enough without the added obstacles of having limited access to your institution and the closure of your primary marketing platforms. A dispersed and isolated audience also makes it difficult to gain insights into their behaviour and decision-making process.
To help break down the communications barriers imposed by COVID-19, Glacier has conducted a series of virtual roundtables with our high school influencers to gain a deeper understanding on how this pandemic has impacted the habits and behaviours of Gen-Zs.
First, we discussed the impact on daily routines and how they’re dealing with such a drastic change.
The key difference for high school students during COVID-19 has been just that, school. With all facilities shut down, all assignments and discussions are completed virtually, at a much different pace. Schools are operating in a variety of manners during quarantine, however the virtual aspect has provided additional flexibility when it comes to schedules and due dates. Some students are expected to participate in a daily online check-in to keep engagement and participation up, while others are tasked with the responsibility of managing their own schedules and completing work under limited supervision. Regardless the process, all participants continue to make school work and studying part of their daily regiments.
A common theme among round-table participants was the positive impact isolation has had on stress levels. As Courtney, an influencer from Georgia, described, “I found that I am actually less stressed out because I can do things at my own pace.” There was an even split between students who spread their school work across multiple days, in shorter periods, and students who dedicate a longer initial period to finishing all tasks in order to free up larger chunks of time in the future. Both sides agreed that the freedom to choose has been a much welcomed feature.
Beyond school, students also voiced their appreciation for the downtime their new extra-curricular schedules provide. “Honestly, the biggest thing that I have noticed is my stress has gone down so much since we have been in quarantine. I feel so relaxed compared to what I typically do with school, work, and sports. I can relax and focus on me,” said Maddy, a senior from Maryland. Mariah, a junior from Pittsburgh, echoed the sentiment: “I wish I could see my friends but I am also not sad that my schedule isn’t full for once, I am enjoying the downtime.” While it’s not something they hope for long term, a temporary break from juggling multiple commitments and action-packed days has been a welcome change for now.
Personal Growth and Care
With the additional downtime, many students mentioned the benefits of being able to reflect and work on personal growth. “I can wake up and exercise and I have never cooked but now I am starting to learn. I pick one day to finish all my school work then I spend the rest doing what I want; I have picked up new hobbies and tried new things,” Explained Camilla, an influencer from Kentucky who helped with our Eastern Kentucky University campaign. “It gives a chance to pause and reflect and I’ve done a lot of self-care.”
A large majority of the students also admitted to catching some extra sleep in the mornings, resulting in well-rested, productive days. Daily exercising, via running outdoors or home workouts, was another popular way to spend a couple hours and maintain good health. With the eased schedules, and a lack of distraction, getting around to daily workouts has become easier and more enjoyable.
While most students have kept a very positive outlook and aren’t worried about health issues, concerns regarding economic instability and its impact on their future education were prevalent. For Lena, a senior from Georgia, her fears stem from economic and geographical impacts. “For me, my school is in New York, which is really scary since it’s the epicenter right now. It’s also terrifying having to worry about college tuition when I can’t be working. I had just started working and now I have been out of work for almost two months.”
Fellow Georgian, Courtney, discussed her concern of missing out on her first semester of College. “I am worried about this carrying into the fall and I have to continue doing online work when I’m starting my first semester of college. That would be a really big bummer because we’ve already missed all these cool things from senior year. It is nice to be home and relax and be around family before moving away to college, but I hope everything starts on time in the fall.”
These conversations offer some insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on Gen-Zs and how they’re dealing with the changes in their current routines. Stayed tuned, next up we’ll explore the impact it’s having on their future plans for higher education.