No matter where college students are living and learning, the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted daily life. As a result, the well-being and mental health of students is of keen interest to parents, families, and universities worldwide. Between November 1 and 16, 2020, the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) Research team invited all Duke undergraduates to share their experiences with academics, social relationships, stress, mental health, and well-being during the fall semester, and 1,015 students responded (15.4% response rate). To provide context and a point of comparison for student responses during COVID-19, we drew on data from previous research conducted at Duke during more typical times.
Listen to the full Parent and Family Programs podcast here.
Narrator: You are listening to the Duke University Parent and Family Programs Podcast
Grace Sullivan: Hello, this is Grace Sullivan from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. We're here today with Duke student, Shrey Majmudar. Thank you for joining us today.
Shrey Majmudar: Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited to be on.
Grace Sullivan: Shrey could you just start by introducing yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
What started as a whisper in February, quickly became our new reality by March.
Now, with only finals left in the fall semester, we can all reflect on the decisions and actions of students, faculty, staff, and the entire Duke community and know that we came together and made it work. It was not easy, and it certainly wasn’t without issue. Will everything go back to normal this spring? No. However, with impossible odds and improbable measures, we completed an in-person semester during a Global pandemic.
It would be irresponsible of me to not acknowledge the loss and heavy burden that has befallen so many because of COVID-19, and this reflection is by no means suggesting that this fight is over or that we have somehow succeeded.
As families know, Parent and Family Programs hosted our first-ever virtual Family Weekend October 16-18 complete with 25 synchronous and 3 asynchronous events for guests to join. Overall, Family Weekend was a great success with over 2,300 attendees across these programs which focused on institutional priorities, signature programs, and current happenings. Also as part of Family Weekend, the Division of Student Affairs hosted its annual Duke Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) fall meeting.
These are some unprecedented times. In the past month, our students have experienced a lot to be grieving about, from a worldwide pandemic changing their everyday experience to the postponing of so many traditions and expectations on campus in an attempt to keep everyone safe. We continue to make choices on a systems level, which impact the day-to-day experiences that make the Duke community special. Our students are left to navigate the final month of the semester away from community and often feeling very alone. Students are home and surrounded by the love of family, but this is not the college experience for which they prepared. As a result, we are all grieving and longing for our world to return to some bit of normalcy.
Listen to the Parent and Family Programs podcast or read the transcript below.
Narrator: You are listening to the Duke University Parent and Family Programs podcast.
Grace: Hello. This is Grace Sullivan from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. We’re here today with Duke Student, Ivan Robles. Thank you for joining us today, Ivan. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Tommy Lin is from Shanghai, China and is pursuing majors in Chemistry and Computer Science .
This year, it is estimated that over 46 million turkeys will be consumed in this country on November 28, Thanksgiving Day. With mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving not only provides Duke students with a chance to visit with family and friends and take a well-deserved break from campus life, but it also gives all of us an opportunity to acknowledge and express our gratitude for the many things that make our lives meaningful and fun.
Families can play a critical role in the health and well-being of their college students. Your wisdom, guidance, and relationships help inform students’ decisions throughout college. We believe that parental conversations about alcohol, in particular, contribute to increased student safety, student ownership of their actions, and healthier and more positive experiences in college.
Parent and Family Programs and DuWell (Duke’s health promotion and wellness unit) developed the following video to spark conversations about alcohol use and social decision-making before your student arrives to Duke: https://youtu.be/kPd3vfKpzjM.
We suggest addressing the following in your conversations with your student: