SSN Commentary

3 Things the Pandemic Taught Us About Inequality in College — And Why They Matter Today

Policy field

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University of Pennsylvania
Harvard University

Originally published in the Conversation on February 20, 2023.

Elise, a nursing student at an elite U.S. university in the Northeast, found herself back home and sleeping on the floor of her parents’ one-bedroom apartment after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.

It was tough to get a good night’s sleep as family members passed through to the kitchen or the front door. Such interruptions also made it difficult to concentrate during lectures and exams. Sometimes, limited internet bandwidth made it impossible for Elise to attend class at all. She couldn’t ask her parents to buy her a new computer to replace the one that was breaking down, she explained, because she knew they couldn’t afford it.