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National Survey Reveals College Students' Report Subpar Online Learning Experience, Mental Health and Social Impacts of the Pandemic

Over 92% of students want to return to campus in the spring even if schools remain virtual, psychological effects and economic difficulties show improvement, but the job loss percentage remains the same.

CHICAGO – (November 10, 2020) – A recent survey of over 1,500 college students throughout the United States reveals how Covid-19 has impacted this demographic, including their mental state, sentiment about remote learning, personal and family’s finances, and more.

National student housing developer and manager Core Spaces emailed the survey to student residents at 23 of their properties across 16 cities in 14 states. The national analysis is the second that the developer has conducted since the beginning of the pandemic. Responses were collected from October 22 to October 30.

“The survey data strongly suggests that the social restrictions to stop the spread of the pandemic has had a direct effect on the wellbeing of our students,” says Marc Lifshin, founder and chief executive officer of Core Spaces. “The impacts of the pandemic have greatly affected our residents. With the college experience being severely limited as our country fights this disease, we continue to monitor feedback and customize creative ways to provide our residents with ways to safely stay connected and a place to thrive based on new information we receive.”

Key Findings:
Living preferences: More students want to return to campus. Over 92% of respondents said they want to come back to campus when classes begin in the spring, compared with 89% from the summer survey.

87.4% of respondents plan to get back to their universities even if they continue online instruction in the spring, nearly 15% higher than the summer survey responses.

Economic impact / confidence:
40% of respondents said the pandemic resulted in economic difficulties for themselves and their families (23% less when compared to the reported summer results). They were affected in the following ways:
• They lost their job 31.1%
• Their job hours or pay were reduced 36.6%
• One of their parents lost his or her job 21.4%
• One of their parents had hours or pay reduced 36.6%

When it came to how students felt about their future job prospects considering the pandemic, nearly 86% felt very confident (27.3%) and somewhat confident (58.6%), while 14.1% reported they were not confident at all. The student sentiment on job outlook improved compared with the summer survey respondents who reported that 60% were much less confident (20%), and more than 40% felt somewhat less confident.

Remote learning & studying:
Nearly 65% of respondents said that the online class experience had been less than positive – half responded with feeling uninterested or indifferent (51.8%) to hating online classes (14.3%).

Over 87% of students said they would want to get to university (town) even if classes were 100% virtual (compared with 72.5% from the summer survey responses).

Nearly nine out of 10 (10% higher than reported during the summer) said they feel they'd be more successful studying remotely in their apartments vs. their family’s homes.

Confidence in being safe back at school and amongst peers:
Over 93% of respondents were either "very confident" (47.6%) or "somewhat confident" (45.6%) that their universities would take appropriate and available measures to help protect them and other students from spreading the virus.

Eight out of 10 either reported that their university is “doing everything they should be doing” (63.6%) or think the protocols are too strict (19.2%).

More than 92% of respondents were either "very confident" (50.5%) or "somewhat confident" (41.7%) that their student housing provider (Core Spaces) would take appropriate and available measures to help protect them and other student residents from spreading the virus.

The majority of students believe that their neighbors and peers are taking appropriate precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19. 83.6% think their peers and neighbors were “somewhat responsible” (57.9%) or being “very responsible” (25.7%).

COVID-19 Testing:
Over 76% of respondents have had a COVID-19 test since returning to campus this fall. Those who hadn’t yet been tested reported that convenience (55%) and cost or not wanting to pay for testing (14.5%) were the main factors.

• Close to half of the tested respondents have had at least two tests since returning to school, some regularly testing multiple times per week.

Psychological impact:
Since Covid-19’s onset, students said they had experienced the following:

• Sleep pattern has changed (52.9% now vs. 76.2% reported in the summer survey)
• Feel more anxious or stressed (69.1% vs. 75.1% reported in the summer survey)
• Feel more depressed or worried (43.3% vs. 55.5% reported in the summer survey)
• Feel isolated or lonely (52.9%)
• Seen a professional for physical or mental health (12.3% vs. 12% in the summer survey)

While there was a 12% reduction in respondents' reported symptoms compared with summer survey responses, a greater number of students reported that they know someone that has experienced the following since the onset of COVID-19:

• Sleep pattern has changed (63.8%)
• Feel more anxious or stressed (75.85%)
• Feel more depressed or worried (62.70%)
• Feel isolated or lonely (65.33%)
• Seen a professional for physical or mental health (31.28%)

The most significant challenge students reported during the pandemic was the social aspect – not having the ability to socialize with their peers (69.34%) was the most difficult.

The second most challenging issue students reported was online learning (68.44%), the third most difficult issue was dealing with uncertainty (64.08%).

Desire for vaccine:
When asked how likely they are to want a vaccine if/when it is made available, almost 75% said they were very likely (39.72%) and somewhat likely (35.22%) to want the vaccine, and 24.99% responded with not likely to want one.

In total, there were 1,550 respondents from 23 properties across 16 cities in 14 states. The top five universities/cities, in order of the highest rate of respondents, include University of South Carolina, Columbia (11.74%); *University of Florida, Gainesville (16.52%); *University of Arizona, Tucson (12.32%); *University of Kentucky, Lexington (10.65%); University of Mississippi University, Oxford, (6.39%). [* represents two Core properties in the same city/campus]

“Supporting our residents and reducing the stress that students are feeling is our top priority," added Lifshin. “We formed partnerships with Headspace, a mindfulness meditation app to offer 500 of our residents nationwide with an annual subscription that provides the needed relief from pressures that we saw students experiencing. Our partnership with Collective & Co., a human development company that provides professional, personal, and emotional growth tools to students and young professionals, allowed us to implement mindfulness sessions for our onsite staff across the country and residents starting with Columbia, SC, and Gainesville, FL, and we’re going to continue observing resident needs and adapting to them in meaningful ways.”

About Core Spaces
Core Spaces is a vertically integrated company focused on acquiring, developing, and managing the best real estate in educational markets. From world-class amenities and progressive design to client service with a community focus, Core creates spaces where people want to be. Its projects are thoughtfully designed, customized, developed, and managed to create extraordinary lifestyle experiences that are as unique as their respective cities. Since its founding in 2010, Core has consistently delivered award-winning developments in top-tier university markets across the country. It currently owns and/or manages 32 properties nationwide – totaling more than 15,000 beds – and has a pipeline of over 28,000 beds in various stages of development. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Lily Mai