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How can college student support programs adapt to overcome the changes of the pandemic?

As we are in a pandemic, students who are still enrolled are in need of support now more than ever. Support programs need to reach out and help as many students as they can beyond their offices. #studentsupport #counseling #academicadvice

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Veronika’s Answer

Hi, Eboni. I suggest student support programs should cooperate with Student's Life office or partnering divisions in the college. Community engagement is one of the ways to stimulate "motivation and reward" system of the brain, thus helping to overcome difficulties easier. Secondly, community projects unlock students' potential to work under challenging social conditions, thereby adjusting to changes and learning how to overcome those hardships.
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Mary’s Answer

Addressing student wellness alongside supporting students on discovering their ideal career pathways may lend a much needed helping hand. In addition, providing sources of funding towards education and student personal expenses eases possible hardship while in college before they fully transition to the workplace.
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Ebony’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi Eboni,

(I love your name by the way)
Thank you for your question. I have worked both on state-funded campuses and private campuses prior to my work in the non-profit sector and found that some of the same issues exist as a result I will list some recommendations from that lens.

1. Create a comprehensive outreach program that connects with community organizations and local schools - Programming is typically developed from a "you come to us" standpoint. It makes the assumption that students will not only locate the resource in question, but also somehow understand the value and how to engage with it. This leads to the second issue. They should know about the resources and points of contact prior to stepping foot on campus. These same folks should have a place in orientation to create a bridge and essentially welcome them to the campus.
2. Build cultural competence - The way in which a student engages with a resource is largely informed by cultural norms. If that student's culture is one where you speak when spoken to or where asking questions is seen as conflict then the student will go without the resources needed.
3. Collaborate - Resources largely work on their own and develop programming from a singular lens. For example, Academic Advising, Mental Health Counselors, faculty and Career Counselors (and more) all have a related vested interest in the student's ability to navigate challenging conversations but rarely do they work together to leverage their own insights for the betterment of the campus.
4. Locate leaders who are open to collaboration - Leadership and front line staff/faculty usually have siloed agendas
5. Fund, funding, funding - All of this work needs to be supported by adequate funding
6. Invest in the staff doing the work - In addition to the work that must be done with students, the reality is that the staff taking on these roles are often pulled in multiple directions, thus limiting their ability to launch the support they know is needed. This means they are short-changed on their own professional development, rest, mental health support (and usually financial compensation). This leads to burnout and thus high turnover.
7. LISTEN TO STUDENTS - Give them the space and they will tell you what they need.
8. Data is your friend - Locate the trends among the students struggling and solve for them. For example - if you see all students who didn't register for an English or a Math in their first session didn't didn't graduate in a specific time frame. Create a system that follows up with the students missing that step before the first session starts. Or if you see all Black students failing a single course/single instructor perhaps some support can be offered to both the instructor and Supplemental Instruction to students who register for that course.

I'll stop there...

I hope this helps.

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