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Student Life

Photo credit: Gina Ellen/Bigstock

Back to Issues

In theory, the main focus for schools and students is academics – what they learn in their classes. But in reality, students’ experiences outside of classrooms account for some of their most important learning gains, make key contributions to their academic and professional success, and play important roles in their financial, mental and physical health.

Students who are hungry, experiencing housing stress, obsessed with video games, or victimized by online bullying, generally don’t learn as well. On the other hand, students who actively participate in extracurricular activities or, by the time they are in college, work reasonable hours at a part-time job, are more likely to thrive in school and after graduation.

The coronavirus pandemic brought attention to just how different the lives of students are outside of the classroom and the implications those inequities have on their performance in school and in the job market.

So coverage of students’ lives – from their housing situations to their student clubs – can generate fresh and important stories for education journalists.

Student life stories can be challenging because privacy laws often give educational institutions the cloak to withhold information. Because access to records can be a challenge, especially for K-12 reporting, source development and interviewing are especially important in covering student life.

The resources below should also give you a good start.