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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Seven out of 10 college students have experienced anxiety, 53% have experienced depression and 29% have considered dropping out since the pandemic began, according to a new Generation Lab/Axios poll.

The big picture: The end is in sight, but students are still in for a cold, isolated second semester.

Students this fall had to decide whether a college experience largely stripped of football games, learning in classrooms and partying was worthwhile.

  • Despite the challenges, more than two-thirds said that it was at least somewhat worth the tuition, but nearly a third said it wasn't worth it.
  • In a separate study, however, three-quarters of nearly 4,000 survey respondents pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the fall semester rated the quality of their education highly in a new report from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation.

The Generation Lab polling shows that campuses have proven to be a less safe location than back at home. 13% of students say they contracted the coronavirus — a clip nearly 3x the broader U.S. population.

  • Since the pandemic began, more than 397,000 infections have occurred at more than 1,800 colleges and universities, according to a N.Y. Times survey.
  • This includes more than 6,600 college athletes, coaches and staff members who have tested positive.

The state of play: The thousands of U.S. colleges had to come up with their own systems to reopen for testing and contact tracing regiments, which was largely inefficient and shaky even after the fall semester began.

  • Many students still returned to college towns, rented off-campus housing and attended crowded gatherings, despite online only class offerings this fall.

The bottom line: The incoming spring semester could see more of the same challenges in educating and keeping students safe with serial testing.

  • Still, a majority of college leaders are recognizing the growing concern about the stressors on students’ mental health, according to the American Council on Education.

Methodology: The poll was conducted Dec. 14-16 from a representative sample of 1,036 college students nationwide from 2-year and 4-year schools. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

  • Generation Lab’s polling is conducted using a demographically representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered digitally.

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

Jan 20, 2021 - Health

California Rep. Raul Ruiz contracts COVID-19

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool via Getty

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: He is the latest member of Congress to contract the disease since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, forcing lawmakers to lock down in close quarters. Some lawmakers have criticized colleagues for refusing to wear masks while in lockdown.