College Students’ Belonging and Loneliness in the Context of Remote Online Classes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ashley Hansen-Brown, Sean Sullivan, Brianna Jacobson, Blake Holt, Shaelyn Donovan


The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected how higher education operates, but relatively little is known about its effects on students enrolled in remote online classes. Across two data collection timepoints, we sought to examine college students’ experiences, focusing particularly on their sense of belonging/loneliness, their course formats, and their experiences in the pandemic. Though some findings differed between data collected in fall 2020 and in spring 2021, we generally found that students’ belonging/loneliness was linked with their class format, aspects of their virtual classes, social contact, and experiences in the pandemic. This research demonstrates the importance both of understanding students’ experiences in general and of continuing to study students’ experiences as we progress from one stage of the pandemic to the next.


belonging; loneliness; online classes; COVID-19; college students

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