In those months between graduation and orientation, students get tripped up by lost paperwork and missing documentation. Sometimes their aid packages fall short or their family circumstances change.
Now the challenges of transitioning to college are magnified because of covid-19. As the economy implodes, families’ financial struggles are deepening. Some students face new responsibilities at home. At the same time, the traditional college experience is being upended. For some students, online learning is almost impossible due to technology gaps.
Even with computer access, some students struggle to learn through remote instruction, adding another barrier, says Daryl Curry, the mentor coordinator for Oasis Center, a Nashville-based organization that supports students and families with crisis intervention and college access.
“Some of the complaints from my former students were when they got shifted to online learning that they didn’t know what to do,” he says. “They felt they weren’t given almost anything other than deadlines.”
What’s Different Now
Student engagement is essential during the transitional period to college. But the need for regular interaction and communication has never been more important than it is now, says Evelyn Garcia Morales, executive director at Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas.
For the past two years Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas
, a college program designed to guide high-school students through college, has used text message campaigns to reach students. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, they are ramping up other forms of communication, too. Those include:
Webinars. Zoom calls and Google Hangouts have been helpful for preserving at least some group interactions.
Social media. Student engagement is all about meeting students where they are, she says. With even more happening virtually now, she, too, is reaching out more on social media.
Good old-fashioned phone calls. The personal touch of phone calls has helped get students’ attention amid all of the virtual communication they are bombarded with during quarantine. “We find there is a need for students to schedule one-on-ones,” Morales said. It has helped to personalize communication in the absence of face-to-face meetings.
A lot is uncertain about who will show up on campus this fall — both among new students and returning students. And we’re already seeing signs of how covid-19 is derailing college plans.
More than 32,000 students withdrew from classes this spring, a 17-percent increase from the number who withdrew last spring, the Times reported. And about 2,000 students could not continue their hands-on coursework, in fields like biotechnology and career programs like auto mechanics.
On top of that, a survey completed by more than 9,000 of the district’s students found that only three-quarters had regular access to a computer, the Times said, and one-third lacked a quiet study space. Close to half were also dealing with a job loss or reduction of work hours.