June is Pride Month, and at Innovative Educators we want to celebrate and honor our LBGTQ+ colleagues and students. This week NPR shares a helpful guide, created in collaboration with GLAAD, for understanding gender identity terms and pronouns.
Community Colleges Work to Enroll Students Impacted by Pandemic
PBS NewsHour has a new series titled “Rethinking College.” This week it examines low enrollment at community colleges and highlights initiatives to support students. Northern Virginia Community College is using employees to be “remote student support specialists” to reach out to students who might be disconnected. At the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, the institution is connecting students to resources like mental health counseling, food pantries, and financial assistance. The hope is that these initiatives will retain current students while encouraging enrollment.
“Students want to feel a sense of belonging. They want a sense of community with their faculty member. And once you can establish this with your students, it just paves the way for a much better semester.”
~ Maureen E. Abbate, Professor of English at Community College of Rhode Island
Creating More Caring Campuses
This week Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports on the Institute for Evidence-Based Change’s (IEBC) Caring Campus initiative. Over 66 institutions have participated in Caring Campus since its launch in 2019. The goal of the program is to create a culture of connectedness at institutions to positively impact student retention. Faculty and staff commit to behaviors like “learning a student’s name early into the semester, building relationships outside of the classroom, developing clear course syllabi, assessing early to establish learning baselines and being ‘situational fair’.” Participating institutions are seeing increases in student grades as well as persistence rates.
Proposed Short Term Pell Expansion
Senators Tim Kaine and Rob Portman have proposed an amendment to the Senate's U.S. Innovation and Competition Act to expand Pell eligibility. The goal is to allow students in career training programs of eight weeks or more to be eligible for the grants; currently students can only use Pell in programs that are 15 weeks or longer. Critics fear the aid will be used for low-quality programs. Kaine and Portman’s amendment has measures to assure program quality. Institutions will have to disclose completion rates, publish that data prominently, and demonstrate that short-term program graduates receive “a median 20% increase in earnings after finishing them.”
Adult Learners Head to College for New Opportunities
Institutions are reporting what they are calling the beginning of a “silver tsunami” on their campuses as older adults enroll at colleges and universities. Many of these students cite COVID as a reason for returning to complete a degree or retrain for a new career. Older adult students often serve as informal mentors to traditionally aged students and demonstrate greater resilience. PBS NewsHour highlights programs at UC Berkeley like the OWLS (Older, Wiser Learners) to provide support for those “silver tsunami” students.
Author: Meg Foster
June 4, 2021