Coronavirus and the Forced Transition to Fully Online Learning: Advantages and Psychosocial Challenges for Graduate Students at HBCUs
Concurrent Session 3
The Coronavirus affected the closing of college campuses to safeguard its faculty, staff and students. Transitioning to fully online courses became the solution to a gripping challenge. This presentation will explore how graduate students at HBCUs experienced this transition as its “new normal” and psychosocial issues.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) affected colleges and universities in a way no one anticipated. The implementation of social distancing as a safeguard measure systematically closed college campuses. While the hope that closure would be as temporary, the gravity of the pandemic informed that the probability of return could extend to the Fall 2021 semester. Thus, the uncertainty of instruction was readily rectified by providing online instruction. Yet, many graduate students were underprepared for being a fully online learner. Exposed were issues such as lack of technological equipment (i.e. laptop, desktop, printer, etc.) being available at home. Moreover, having to supplant technology for a child or children, and accessing or maintaining internet access became a real concern: financially. Too, graduate students who are parents with school aged children, becoming instant homeschool teachers had the capacity to become an added stressor, particularly if fully employed and required to work at home. Coupled with instant job loss of one or two spouses or partners, or a family member in a household, prioritizing income generation may place graduate education on the backburner. Though all graduate students at HBCUs are not African American, the majority are. Essentially, this transition to the “new normal” will bring with its psychosocial issues unique to African American graduates students attending HBCUs during a pandemic, where social distancing has disrupted their way of living, being, working, and studying in a virtual and remote world.