What Can First Year University Students Expect In 2021?

The 2020 academic year was difficult for university students as they had to adapt to online learning from home as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Here's what first year students can expect from this academic year. 

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 forced university students to adapt to a new way of learning. As a result of the Covid-19 lockdown online learning became the primary source of learning for students. Students also had to return to their homes where the environment is often not conducive to learning. This was layered with the fact that many had to mourn the loss of loved ones due to the coronavirus. 

SABC News spoke to Life Coach, Dr Disha Magoshana from the University of Cape Town about how students coped in 2020 and what new students should expect from universities in 2021. 

Dr Magoshana said that the move to remote learning came as a shock to many students especially first years as they had to learn for themselves and make use of the resources offered to them to their best ability. She says she does not see this getting easier going into the 2021 academic year. 

The environment many students lived in did not make their learning any easier. Dr Magoshana recalls students who lived in overcrowded spaces, lived in noisy areas with taverns and some who even had to study in the toilet as that was the only space available to them. 

Students have also struggled without the devices needed to take part in online learning as they did not have laptops and experienced delays in receiving them. Even those with laptops have had to deal with loadshedding which meant that they would have to schedule their work around this. 

Many lost family members due to the coronavirus and other causes and were not able to attend the funerals and Magoshana says that this has a negative psychological impact on students. The isolation also took a toll on students and many reached out to their universities for support. 

She said that students have shown how incredibly resilient they can be in the face of adversity. 

"In many ways students have had to draw on resources that they didn't even know they had within themselves," she said.

In terms of the first years expected to enter university this year, Dr Magoshana says that they too have had to face challenges in high school due to the effects of Covid-19 and this has made them very strong and resilient. 

"My advice to them [the first years] is to know that university is not high school... University is a completely different playing field." said Magoshana. 

She emphasizes that there will be a lot of isolation and transitions will be different to the usual, as some students won't be travelling to their university and may need to study from home. 

"This is not going to be forever, the challenges that they experience right now will eventually pass and we will come out stronger and more resilient." Life Coach, Dr Disha Magoshana from the University of Cape Town. 



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