College students nationwide are seeing the long-term effects of virtual learning reflected in their test scores. Many students who ended high school virtually now report feeling behind in the classroom. 

An April 2022 study by McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting company, found that students across the globe are eight months behind where they would have been academically without the pandemic. 

Analyzing this study, Danielle DaSilva, a calculus tutor at Elon University, said she’s worried about what the future could look like for incoming students. 

“I feel like the amount of students who feel hopeless will just increase over the next couple of years as students recognize this learning loss in the future,” she said. 

DaSilva said she currently sees students struggle with study habits and retaining material, since many, especially the freshmen, finished high school virtually. 

“The freshmen haven't had an in-person class in two years, and they haven't taken a test in about two years,” DaSilva said. “Getting back into the habit of having to study, of not always having your notes with you. It's something that a lot of people have really struggled with.”

According to an earlier study by McKinsey and Company published in July 2021, test scores for students in kindergarten through fifth grade were about nine points lower in reading and ten points lower in math compared to 2019. This is the equivalent of being five months behind in math by the end of the school year, according to the study. McKinsey and Company’s study also stated that experts worry that, by the time students reach high school, they will be less likely to graduate on time. 

Similarly, North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction reported a negative impact on test scores for almost all subjects over the same periods of time. 

DaSilva’s boss and Director of Learning Assistance James Holsinger agreed that the problems are getting worse as tutors are often fully booked. DaSilva said students were making appointments with her weeks in advance during the past fall semester. Holsinger said he’s worried that supply might not meet demand in the coming years. 

“It doesn't usually or almost never happens for us, but it could,” Holsinger said. “We keep track at the end of the semester, at the end of the academic year.  We always look very closely to see what courses that we had the highest usage and how many tutors we have employed coming into the next year to meet that.”

With finals season now happening as the academic year is coming to an end, this is something DaSilva has experienced, as her weeks of availability continue to be booked far in advance. 

“It's a lot of pressure, but at the same time, the tutoring supervisors do a good job of reminding us that it's not our job to ensure that a student does well,” DaSilva said. “It's simply our job to help them.”  

Holsinger and DaSilva agree that tutoring is a way you can help refresh your memory and relearn material.