Student Voices During COVID-19

Student Engagement began to survey MSP students on a weekly basis starting in mid-May about their experiences as students under quarantine. Each week, an email was sent out, data was collected, and the following week, the information was shared with all.

“The responses really showed that MSP is truly a community and the student care about one another and the well-being of all,” said Holly Spencer (PsyD 2) a grad assistant who co-led the survey. “There was a great deal of support around how to balance life, school, work, and family during COVID-19. It was nice to see everyone felt the same way and as an individual, I was not alone.” 

Some weeks the question focused on stress, coping techniques, and the experience of online learning. Other weeks, students offered messages of hope to each other and shared what they like most about MSP.

“I received a lot of unexpected positive feedback from professors, faculty, and students,” said grad assistant and survey co-lead Sierra Gillis (PsyD 1).  “It really made me feel like I was not alone and that I was supported. Those small emails of thanks definitely lifted my spirits and motivated me to give back to the school even more! I am truly grateful for the opportunity to co-lead the Student Survey.” 

What started as a short term project turned into a 7-week experiment in virtual connection at MSP. Many thanks to all the students who participated. Below are the full results.

Some professors have transitioned to remote instruction flawlessly. Some have not. It really has an impact on the learning experience. 

That the struggles and difficulties of being a full-time student don’t stop even when everything else has changed. 

Keep a schedule and load it up with time for mini self-care sessions. 

It is so much harder than being a student in-person classes. 

Be compassionate to yourself.

Being a student in the time of COVID-19 is challenging, however studies are a good distraction from the everyday worries and uncertainties regarding COVID-19. 

Stay positive! We’ll make it through! 

That no matter how hard life seems to be right now, all you can do is let go of all control while doing the best you can every day. Don’t make things happen in life, you’ll go nuts trying to control everything. Instead, sit back and watch life happen for you. Everything else will fall into place. I promise. Don’t waste away your life chasing goals you may never attain. Live for today, while only preparing for tomorrow. Remove the blinders of our social institutions and realize that life is just a game…. so play it however you want and have a blast doing it!!! Take this virus as a time to reset, reveal and reconnect. 

It is difficult navigating all the uncertainty of attaining employment after journey as a student. 

It is difficult to look at a screen for EVERYTHING! 

My time at MSP is near an end, and one of the parts I will miss the most developed out of COVID-19: weekly lunch chats & support. 

It’s marginally easier to be a student in the time of COVID-19. 

I miss you. 

This is stressful and it’s hard to focus on academics with all the changes in new/mis information. 

It takes the experience out of an experiential program. 

That this is the time to practice self-care and work on the coping mechanisms that we often suggest/ will suggest to clients. 

Having my peers around is helping me to stay grounded. I am thankful for being here with them. 

That doing class and homework at home is distracting, harder to focus with family, pets, etc. Was easier to do homework at the library or school. 

It’s hard staying focused on academics with so much loss happening. 

It takes a lot of extra effort to adjust to being isolated while still trying to remain motivated and productive. 

MSP is very supportive but being a student during COVID-19 sucks. Can’t wait for it to be over. 

You are a student during a PANDEMIC. 

You are a mother, father, sister, brother, etc., during a PANDEMIC. 

You are/may be an employee during a PANDEMIC. 

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed! Try not to be too critical of yourself and your performance, as these circumstances are so very different than what we are used to. Sit in your progress thus far and enjoy what you have done to get this far; you deserve that. Reflect on the positives of your situation and embrace the negatives as challenges (depending on the situation, of course) that you will overcome and succeed in, even if it takes time. 

Also, appreciate your professors. They are doing their best to keep the knowledge coming! Although it may not show, they are overwhelmed as well. Be kind and stay safe (: 

It’s difficult. But there are some perks. In the moments where the difficulty feels overwhelming, I take advantage of the perks of being at home. I will walk my dog during lunch, have a quick chat with my partner, or play video games. The hardest part is missing all of my peers!

Be open to being flexible and letting others know your struggles. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. If we can communicate more honestly, we might see others meeting us halfway with solutions and with compassion. This experience has brought me closer with a lot of people I would not have otherwise cultivated relationships with. 


Taking a 3-5 hour class was challenging in person. Focusing at home can really be a difficult challenge to master! Find ways to keep yourself focused. I try to make sure I have a specific place I always do my school work, and try not to do it in bed. Color, craft, and doodle during online classes to give your body something to do so your mind can listen. I find this helpful! Some things that has helped me: nightlight on my computer, stretching/yoga on breaks, music, meditating, sleep hygiene, and fruit! 

I’ve found that I can focus more during my study and work time when I also plan for time to be active during the day. Bonus points if the active time can be outside! 

Sometimes, keeping the video off and concentrating on listening is helpful, and…sitting on a yoga ball! 

I have my pdf readings for class read to me with a pdf reader app on my phone so that I can get up and move while listening to my readings. 

Learning to divide and conquer: having to lean on other students to help with the learning definitely lightens the load and allows interdependence to flourish. It’s much better to work together on readings and swap reports and papers with one another to get it done. 

Making sure you have a set space for working, with all the right equipment. I purchased nice headphones to help too since it gets noisy where I live. As far as personal, making sure you take some time to decompress without a screen, too much screen time can get to me so getting outside or just doing some art or taking a nap without a screen in front of me helps too. 

Don’t procrastinate, try to stick to a schedule, do little by little every day to digest the material better! 

After a day of classes, or after a long period of school work, take the time you need to get away from it all (the rest of the evening/the next morning-afternoon) and get outside or watch something that takes your mind away or do anything that can help you turn off for a minute before trying to jump back into intellectual work. It has really helped me stay motivated and even though I spend more time than I’d like NOT doing the work assigned it really helps me strike a balance and stay sane lol.

I had never done online learning save for 1-hour remote learning sessions. I very much don’t like it and I have been considering putting off completing my degree when I can take classes in person again, but I probably won’t. 

On Zoom, I prefer conversational styles of learning with the utilization of small breakout groups. I find structured lectures to be hard to follow; in the summer especially when my internet connection is weak. In person, I prefer experiential learning from lectures. Overall, I prefer learning through zoom rather than face to face education. 

My ability to learn is amplified by learning face to face. Online learning doesn’t allow me to learn more material from my peers and the instruction is not as in depth. 

While I am beginning to adjust to online learning, I still prefer face-to-face interaction. It is a lot easier to check out mentally when online. Also, there are more distractions at home. 

It would be nice to have some class options for online learning. I enjoy being home for lunch, avoiding driving, and being able to let my dog out throughout the day. While some classes would be much better as face to face, I do believe others work fine on a virtual platform. This option would help with parking and be better for the environment. It also would allow students who live an hour or more away to spend their time more efficiently. 

I would say the preference for face-to-face education has stayed the same but if there is an upside to learning remotely it is having more time to do projects around the house as well as saving money on the wear-and-tear to my vehicle. 

I miss meeting other students between classes or on break. I like when professors give a break every 50 minutes to an hour. I love the commute! 

Somewhat, I don’t mind online class for certain classes, but in our field it doesn’t work well for every class. For example, the assessment class is not good online but our human development class was fine online. Anything with an in-person component or that requires materials or a group therapy class per say, is not a great option for online, but other classes don’t seem so bad. I wouldn’t say I prefer online to in-person but I’m ok with a blend, before I preferred just in-person. I think the harder part is not having access to a library or quiet space for studying and being stuck at home like everyone else right now. I think if I had a better environment and not stuck at home, I would be even happier with online. 

I would only prefer face to face education if there is a proven, safe, and effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Otherwise I would prefer online learning for another school year. The safety and health of our MSP community comes first! 

I appreciate face to face education far more than I did before. I would do anything to be able to drive to school and have in-person class. 

Desire for online learning has decreased while the desire for face to face education has increased. 

I have a much stronger appreciation for our in-person experiences, and I do realize I have taken those opportunities for granted! Being a part of a community in person gives me so much more than I had realized. I do also realize that online learning can be so much more than just taking classes online. I have learned a lot about pushing myself and finding new ways to access information than I would have before.

The light always comes after the dark.

We will see each other soon!!!

It’s okay to be child-like and play.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. – John Lennon

I’d say to them that hope and happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. One only needs to turn on the light.

I miss you.

Don’t ever give up! Stay focused, stay engaged, stay connected! Eyes on the prize!

That despite all the negative and bad we see, there is more good that can drown it out. Your voice matters, one person can make a change, all you have to do is have the courage to speak up, others WILL listen.

This too will pass. Although it is a long road, patience and positive thinking are key. Count your blessings and do your best to stay healthy!

Continue to practice self-care and empathy for others. And be open to innovation in our current time.

Having compassion for yourself can literally make or break emotions we have and are dealing with.

I appreciate the opportunity to meet so many like-minded people. It is not always easy to find a group with similar thoughts and goals – it is good to be surrounded by those people, at MSP.

The camaraderie and intimacy that exists. Students and professors alike are always there to help and we all learn so much from each other.

The sense of community.

My favorite thing about MSP is the community feeling amongst staff, students and professors!

The atmosphere and people.

The professors, the environment, the camaraderie, everything!

How organized the school is on a whole. They really make it easy to get things done and be in a graduate program.

It is a culturally inclusive community!

I most appreciate my experiences of being unconditionally positively regarded in my encounters with faculty and the staff.

Where the institution started, where it is now, and where it will be in the future as it continues to grow just as we students do on a personal level while attending.