Our students remain focused when faced with new challenges.
We have all learned to expect the unexpected in the last year. Our work environments changed, our summer activities shifted, and now we’re managing a fall that is the first of its kind.
No one is feeling this time of transition more than our students. In spring, their courses went fully online at first, and they navigated that change.
“It was very difficult to transition to online education,” said Bryce Werre, an Associate in Nursing DTA/MRP student at Spokane Community College and recipient of the Biella Foundation Community and Technical College Scholarship. “I am a very physical learner and enjoy having [access] to the professor’s knowledge firsthand.”
Our students are facing more challenges than just navigating an online or hybrid course load, however. Dr. Claudine Richardson, Spokane Falls Community College Director of Student Development, Diversity & Equity, offered a view into some of the challenges our students are facing in the fall quarter. Not having enough to eat or a stable place to live are two top concerns.
“Students want to be here; they’ve worked hard to achieve accessing the opportunities college could provide” Dr. Richardson said.
But it can be hard when you don’t have steady housing or enough money to cover food and bills. That issue is magnified when we think about how students are facing the same employment scarcity that the rest of our community is.
Students are also struggling to have the right technology and access to online courses and resources. Many don’t have reliable internet or laptops, and several of our students must travel to access Wi-Fi. As Dr. Richardson explained, try taking a timed test when you don’t have reliable internet.
It’s no wonder, then, that mental health is also a major concern for students right now. CCS staff are doing all they can to be coaches to students, fighting for them to succeed.
“We fight for them, sometimes even when they’re tired of fighting,” said Richardson.
These struggles that students face are now unmasked to us, she added. And that means we can provide them with the support they need.
Across CCS, employees are working to fill these gaps by providing greater access to resources and support. We’ve made virtual lounges for students to speak to student service staff. They can make appointments online or in-person. Faculty are rising to the challenge of providing online education that works for our students, who are often managing caretaking, work, and internet accessibility issues while trying to complete their classwork.
This quick innovation to meet student needs is “a beautiful way to see what CCS can do,” Dr. Richardson said. She noted that this is something unique to community colleges.
“We see a need, we assess the opportunity gap, and we innovate quickly. In a day or two, we’ll have a solution.”
Even with challenges ahead, our students are working hard. “They’re examples of courage under fire,” Dr. Richardson said. More than just trying to make it through the term, they’re striving for success.
45 new nurses (RN) graduated last summer alone. 318 students applied for scholarships during our summer application period, which was open for two weeks this August. Students from across the district volunteered for our Sasquatch Life Hack video series this summer, donating their time – and showcasing their expertise – to make educational videos for our community. Our students aren’t afraid of putting in the work. Of the students surveyed by CCS at the end of spring quarter, 89.7% said they were either graduating from CCS or were planning to continue their education at their campus, either in-person, online, or with hybrid classes. And that’s with almost a third of those students having never had an online class before this spring!
Bryce is a perfect example of the ‘striving for success’ mindset. While he struggled to transition to online learning last spring, this fall he’s ready to accomplish his goals.
“I am looking to complete my two classes with a 4.0. The lowest for these two classes I am willing to accept will be a 3.8. I have adjusted my online study habits accordingly and will be successful this quarter.”
We know our students will give this quarter their all, even with challenges ahead of them. You can help them stay focused with a donation to our Impact fund! As Bryce described, your donation “… allows the student to breathe easy and not stress [about] how they will make their next quarter tuition.”