Submitted by Julia Morris, firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Covid-19 Is a Pivotal Moment for Struggling Students. Can Colleges Step Up? I found the article to be relatable to our campus and reassuring that Ohio State ATI is meeting many of the benchmarks mentioned for our students during this extraordinary time. In hindsight, I do understand that not all students or you may feel this way. However, as the article notes from Father Steve Katsouros, Arrupe College’s dean and founding director, “If we are successful in retention during this unprecedented time, it will be because of the relationships that were already developed”. Arrupe College was established as a two-year school by Loyola University Chicago specifically designed as a bridge to a four-year college. We already strive for personable, one-on-one relationships with our students, why not continue virtually?
Initiatives to focus on during this time to overcome a possible make-or-break moment for our students are the following:
- Resolve and creativity – “coffee and conversation” breaks
- Faculty and staff need to humanize themselves – post videos, show your cat/dog, discuss a book just read…the goal to be approachable in this unique online setting
- Frequent and clear messaging/updates
- Be proactive and resilient
Things we are already doing that the article references other colleges are pursing to be successful in retaining students for the upcoming year.
- Pass/no pass class options
- Emergency Fund options
- Paying FWS students through the end of the term if unable to work
- Providing campus housing longer (if possible) to those without a home
- Meal assistance
We are also doing so much more! Esports, Netflix nights, online tutoring, counseling services, Skou Lounge hang out, Libchat, virtual tour/webinar recruitment…the list goes on!
In the months ahead, if our students withdraw or do not return, what will our plan be? I hope that as part of the Retention Task Force Committee, we or the University as a whole, will have a plan to reach out to those students to address their concerns and encourage returning when the time is right for them. But in the meantime, continue to connect and communicate. The point the article drives home is “Communication. Communication. Communication.” We often think our students know something because we send an email… “but it takes multiple means of messaging, and it takes reinforcement.”