Georgetown Scientific Research Journal GSR Journal
The educational adjustments to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., distance learning and Zoom) have led to instances of loneliness and isolation among college students, especially at residential campuses such as Georgetown University. Such social disengagement can have a significant impact on a student’s transition to campus and can have a lasting effect on the rest of their college life. This needs assessment (performed in the Spring of 2022) explores the impact of loneliness among students, including themes such as mental health issues, loss of campus engagement, and problems with relationship-building. Pre-pandemic data on the social experiences of high-risk populations on college campuses are included to highlight how the post-virtual environment may have exacerbated varying pre-existing levels of loneliness. This data provides background for the needs assessment of the post-virtual world, as the core focus of this paper is solely post-virtual education/post-pandemic student experiences. We hypothesized that student and faculty interviews conducted at Georgetown University, and scholarly analysis of literature, would indicate the need for improved social support in the college setting. Students reported a lack of connection and increased mental health challenges due to the virtual environment of education during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the research, we determined that an app to address student loneliness (Nod), opportunities to engage with faculty, spaces of well-being on campus, and quality and accessible mental health resources are recommended to combat student loneliness. The negative impacts of the pandemic are still affecting college students today. Thus, it is necessary to identify ways to mitigate increased loneliness and isolation.