70 Students Share The Biggest Obstacles of the Academic Year

70 Students Share The Biggest Obstacles of the Academic Year

Students Share the Biggest Obstacles of the Academic Year

As we head into the last weeks of a long, difficult year, we surveyed 70 of our 8th-11th grade students and asked them to share their biggest academic obstacles of the year.

We knew the long-and-short of it was obvious: COVID-19. The pandemic was everyone’s obstacle. But we wanted to hear from real students about how it impacted their education, so we could help provide solutions in a post-pandemic world. Here’s what they shared.

#1. Online, At-Home Learning

Without a doubt, the most common struggle for students was switching to a primarily virtual, at-home learning experience. Over two-thirds of our surveyed students responded with comments like these:

  • “Paying attention during school is harder because class is not as engaging over Zoom.”
  • “The biggest obstacle I faced in 2020 was not doing proper school, just doing learning on the computer for school.”
  • “Virtual school was hard; I can’t focus at home.”
  • “My biggest obstacle was not physically going into school and having to do online learning. I have found I am not determined, do not put enough effort, and do not try as hard as I should be when I am all virtual. I feel as if when things do go back to normal I will be very far behind and will have trouble getting adjusted to  large amounts of work.”
  • “I struggled with being home all day with my father and being distracted by him and his work.”
  • “Having to attend Zoom classes hurts my eyes every day.”

Almost every student mentioned something related to the disruption of traditional education and the move to primarily online learning.


There is no getting around the fact that students are in a difficult situation right now. We feel for your struggles and frustrations! However, you can still make this year a great one and overcome these obstacles with some quick tips.

  • Read our blog, 5 Ways to Thrive Academically in 2021. It includes details on how to optimize virtual learning that we won’t repeat here, but believe us, they work!
  • Don’t go it alone! Now more than ever is the time to ask for help from teachers, parents, and MEK Review. Check out our HS Honors courses, and other academic enrichment programs that give your more face-time with an expert teacher and more chances to master good habits and excel in the classroom.
  • Create a schedule with lots of breaks! It’s impossible to sit in front of a computer for 6-8 hours a day and not get fatigued or lose focus. Make sure that when you map out your day, a key part of your schedule is frequent breaks.

#2. Isolation is a Motivation Killer

It’s not just the actual virtual learning that students find difficult. It’s the isolation that comes with it. Many of the 70 students we surveyed reported that learning in such relative isolation was killing their motivation, increasing their procrastination, and making it hard to stay focused.

  • “My biggest obstacles was procrastination because of quarantine. I felt unmotivated to do any school work at home.”
  • “It was hard to stay motivated while also being stuck at home.”
  • “Every day has started to blend together and it feels as though I am just repeating each day at this point. This has caused me to lose quite a lot of motivation. I am hoping that in 2021, I can find the motivation that I always had again.”
  • “I didn’t get to know my teachers as well.”
  • “It was an obstacle for me having to learn in an isolated environment.”
  • “We aren’t able to experience things in real life, instead we do it virtually.”
  • “It was difficult not doing anything outside of school, like volunteering.”
  • The biggest obstacles I faced was that it was hard to see my friends.”

Everyone can relate to feeling more isolated right now. The lack of variety and social interaction can make our day seem more drab, which in turn can decrease our motivation to study, learn, or complete assignments.

Plus, it can be really difficult to always have the self-discipline to complete all your tasks and studying with far less people around to hold you accountable or encourage you.


But that doesn’t mean, it can’t be done. Here are some quick tips to make your days less dreary and your motivation higher:

  • Schedule a weekly virtual study session with your friends or classmates. It doesn’t have to be overly formal. It can just be people all quietly studying together and occasionally asking each other questions. But having the regular and scheduled experience will help you feel less isolated and help motivate you to study more. Don’t just keep it to your immediate friend group either. Open it up to anyone in your class. Give yourself a chance to form connections and learn from one another, even without the physical classroom.
  • We recommend you check out this Northwestern University guide for staying motivated in your courses during the pandemic.
  • Get out! By that we mean try to go outside as often as possible. Even if you’re by yourself, being out in nature, can help you feel less isolated. Plus, while it’s important to remember to follow all safety guidelines, don’t go overboard. If you’re out with a mask, with your immediate family in a park, and there’s more than 6 feet of distance between you and others, then you’re okay. Try to still have fun, where you can.

#3. Non-COVID Related Obstacles

Finally, some students reported difficulties that a student might face during any year. Nonetheless, these obstacles can be frustrating and hurt your academic performance if not dealt with. So they are just as important.

Here are a few, we heard from our students:

  • “Stress was my biggest obstacle.”
  • “The biggest obstacle I faced was time management.”
  • “A challenge for me was balancing my responsibilities in-and-out of school and being able to complete everything on time.”
  • “Managing AP classes while studying for the SAT.”
  • “I struggled with getting good grades in my history classes, Modern World History Honors and now APUSH I.”

Dealing with stress, managing your time effectively, and struggling in a specific subject are obstacles every student has faced at one time or another. 


While you may need a more individualized solution for your specific problem, here are a few quick tips.

  • Check out our blog, 3 Secrets to Getting and Keeping a High GPA, to learn how to succeed in school and manage your time effectively.
  • Build up your core study habits, academic skills, and content mastery with MEK courses such as High School Honors, School Support Tutoring, and MEK Learning Circles.
  • Let your parents in on your struggles. They’re usually our biggest cheerleaders, but they’re often the last to know we’re struggling. It’s human to struggle. It’s brave to admit it. Let your parents know what obstacles your facing, so you can work as a team to resolve them.

Looking Ahead

Let’s make the New Year a great year by reflecting on the past, coming up with a plan to overcome any obstacles we faced, and mapping a path to success for the road ahead.

Want help? Creating expert academic plans is what MEK Review is all about.

Contact us today for a consultation.

We look forward to hearing from you!


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