Growing stress among students due to COVID-19

For the Dutch version, click here

Since the beginning of last year, life has been at a standstill. Where normal life first started up again at a snail’s pace, within no time everything ground to a halt again. Everyone has experienced lesser moments. For example, for some, social life has largely fallen away and the pressure at school is difficult to keep up with from home. In this article, we further explore how students from Tilburg University experience stress due to current conditions. Also, this article reflects the experiences of fellow students who are members of Asset | Accounting & Finance.

Last year

Worries about now and the future, everyone knows them. For some, it is easier to deal with them than for others. Everyone has different worries, which weigh in differently for each person. One person braves crisis after crisis and another needs a hand to get back on his feet. The situation started and everyone deals with it in their own way. 

A press article from Tilburg University reveals an increase in psychological complaints, particularly among students. A group that is normally socially very active, who have experienced many changes due to the measures. A group of people who often have a different outlook on life than, for example, full-time workers. 

For many people, attending lectures helped with discipline, a fixed routine with work, school, and private life. A routine that now takes place mainly in student rooms, because the lecture banks and libraries are no longer accessible. Furthermore, there are people who have lost a nice side job, because practicing their job is not possible within the current measures. The imbalance is a major cause of stress for many. Fortunately, there are several ways to make it a little easier on yourself. 

Experiences of A&F members

How are members of Asset | Accounting & Finance (A&F) experiencing this strange period? In response to this issue, a number of A&F members were interviewed who are currently pursuing the Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Finance, or Accountancy. 

Bo Janssen, MSc Accountancy, gives her experience about switching from physical to online classes. “The online lectures were fine although it was harder to really interact with other students. The second semester I found it a little more difficult. The only interaction left was through online Q&A sessions and usually not a lot of questions came up there.”

Sem van den Berg, MSc Accountancy, briefly talks about the effects the current period had on his motivation. “I did notice that my motivation for attending lectures deteriorated. In the end, my school performance did not suffer. I am normally used to completing subjects without much interaction and personal guidance.”

Thus, it can be concluded that studying in the ‘new normal’ has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, one person generally experiences online classes as pleasant, but the lack of interaction proves to be an obstacle for another. An obstacle that some people cope with better than others.

The role of Tilburg University 

What role did the university have in the transition to the new normal for students? Has the university handled this positively or negatively? In the end, every organization has had to make drastic decisions due to the current measures.

The school shows an upward trend in terms of application measures that apply in education according to Bo Janssen. “Furthermore, I think that they are now trying to look at how a certain subject can best be arranged online instead of just transferring the lectures that are normally given physically to online (for example, by making videos available at any time).”

“For many people, attending lectures helped with discipline, a fixed routine with work, school, and private life. A routine that now takes place mainly in student rooms”

Similarly, there were also students who took a critical view such as Ahlam Kodade, MSc Finance. “I understand that these are special times for all of us. That we have to be creative and flexible with solutions, but I got the feeling that little consideration was given to international students like me. An important group for the education sector.”

Some students felt that things were unclear like Jari Heijnen, MSc Accountancy. “There was a lot of ambiguity from the university, in that respect, they can still learn a lot. Also, there is an expectation that students are always available for an online lecture and that is not possible for many working students.” 

Lack of clarity is a recurring thought in Tilburg University’s course of action. The university is actively working on it and adapting its new teaching methods as time goes on. Lessons will certainly be learned from this new form of teaching and the policies of the educational institutions and national government for years to come. 

Tips from A&F members

How have members of Asset | Accounting & Finance kept themselves mentally and physically fit this year? A few members will briefly explain the positive habits they have adopted. Perhaps this will provide inspiration for maintaining a healthy attitude. 

Discipline and daily routines can be supportive in times of studying at home, says Joep Groenen, Bsc Business Economics. “First of all, I think it is important to keep a good daily routine: get up on time, shower right away, etc. That way I fill in my day much more effectively and I have more motivation. I also like to go outside regularly because I am indoors a lot.”

Thus, sporting activities can also contribute to your health according to Sem van den Berg. “I mainly focused on going to the gym. In addition, I used to run in the summer. I notice that sports can have a positive influence on your mental state.”

Others have been able to get a lot of peace of mind from being home with family as described by Ahlam Kodade. “I spent six months in my home country. I think this was very valuable since I had no courses at the time. It was nice to see family and I took the time to learn Dutch.”

Students keep themselves sharp through discipline, exercise, and being with family. In the end, every little bit helps for people who are struggling this time of year and keeps people vital by getting healthy energy from these little things. 

Hope for the future

The new year has finally begun. For a year we have experienced an unprecedented crisis that still continues. The world has seen various vaccines being developed at a rapid pace and seen the resilience of society. What are students hoping for or what are their expectations for next year? 

Some students prefer to keep expectations a little lower in these uncertain times, like Lianne Ramaekers, MSc Accountancy. “I try not to have too many expectations, because this pandemic could just throw a spanner in the works again. I am really looking forward to spring/summer though; nice weather and hopefully fewer corona measures!”

Still, almost everyone is looking forward hopefully to a better 2021 as stated by Joep Groenen. “With the hope that we may get together again soon with several people, I hope that I may again spend many pleasant evenings with friends. Also, I think I will have a great time at the fun (online) activities of Asset | Accounting & Finance. Furthermore, I hope that sports complexes can open again. Finally, I think I will enjoy eating out again in due time.”

I hope that the wishes of these students may come true soon. For 2021, I hope that everything can go back to normal pretty soon!