Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Victor Chen

Second Advisor

Jesse Goldstein

Third Advisor

Milton Vickerman


While prior research has examined trends toward growing uncertainty and precarity for young adults within the economy and higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be exacerbating these existing inequalities and risks. Drawing from 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with college students at a large Southern and urban public university, this study examines how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting students’ learning experiences, and how those experiences are differentially shaped, in turn, by their class and race. This exploratory research illuminates our understanding of the multiple mechanisms by which the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping existing inequalities in the higher education system, mostly by worsening the outcomes of less advantaged students. The findings reveal that less advantaged students, particularly low-income students of color, are facing greater difficulties during the pandemic in terms of obtaining reliable Internet access, reliable computers, and a reliable space to do work along with coping with related mental health impacts from the pandemic and also the national racial reckoning that took place over the summer after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.


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Date of Submission


Included in

Sociology Commons