InsideHigherEd: Centering Students' Needs
“Colleges and universities are preparing for how COVID-19 will impact their 2020-21 enrollment. From bracing for the worst to practicing cautious optimism, decisions concerning the upcoming academic year have been varied. The subjects of enrollment management, online learning, faculty needs, leadership, budgets, litigation and student health have dominated the discourse happening in our field.
“In this discourse, we should also be addressing the devastation that our most marginalized students are vulnerable to or experiencing due to the pandemic. By acknowledging the bleak realities in America, we will have a greater understanding of how to serve students who face these facts every day:
- COVID-19 is killing African Americans at a rate three times higher than white people.
- Majority-Black counties account for more than half of all COVID-19 cases.
- Of households making less than $40,000 a year, nearly 40 percent of those employed in February lost their jobs in March or at the beginning of April. Nearly half of Black households make less than $40,000 a year.
- Disproportionate numbers of Latinx Americans are dying from COVID-19.
- Many Latinx workers are considered essential, placing them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
- In one out of five Latinx households, at least one of its members has lost their job in the last two months.
- Government rescue efforts aren’t reaching minority-owned businesses.
“Such truths are certain to infiltrate into higher education, especially for those of us whose work is focused on Black and Latinx students. How are we centering these students in our responses to COVID-19?”
by Maximillian Matthews, from Inside Higher Ed, July 14, 2020
As college leaders return to some semblance of a traditional fall semester, regardless of the operational plans to keep students, faculty and staff safe, there needs to be discussion about the ways the most vulnerable and marginalized are supposed to advance their educational pursuits in the face of all the other high-priority events going on in their lives.
What strategies will you institution have to provide additional resources for students impacted by COVID in their homes or with their families near and far? How will these students be impacted if their families are financially impacted far-longer than their White peers? What outreach will be done, and for how long, to conduct necessary contact tracing in their communities? Will they be able to postpone athletic scholarships or game-playing eligibilty if they are unable to live on campus, sequestered from potential COVID hot-spots?
All of these questions and more must be addressed before we believe it is safe to have students return to any sense of normalcy in attending classes.
Harvard Business Review: Don’t Let Micro-Stresses Burn You Out
“You probably don’t need us to tell you that stress makes you more susceptible to chronic illness and mental health conditions, such as depression. By some estimates, 60-80% of all doctor visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress is so harmful to employees that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress takes a big bite out of productivity, as stressed-out people tend to make lower-quality decisions and are often less motivated, innovative, and productive in their work. Ultimately, unrelieved stress can lead to burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion, detachment, and poorer performance at work.”
“Micro-stressors pose a different dilemma than we have seen before so we need new tools for mitigating them. Our work shows three promising approaches.”
- Isolate and act on two to three micro-stressors: When you narrow the list of micro-stressors you’re focusing on to two or three, it’s easier to find time and energy to vent, if that’s helpful to you.
- Invest in relationships and activities that keep the less consequential micro-stresses in perspective: Key to riding above the sea of micro-stressors are relationships that generate a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives — not just in the nature of our employment, but in the connections that sustain and define us beyond our work.
- Distance or disconnect from stress-creating people or activities: Take a step back and evaluate the relationships in your life over which you have control — and make an effort to create some distance in the ones that create more stress than joy.
Rob Cross, Jean Singer and Karen Dillon, from Harvard Business Review, July 9, 2020
One of the challenges that people will face now and in the near future is dealing with the stress of ‘moving on’ from the stresses from daily life in 2020. From COVID-19 to anti-racist work to managing life working at home for an unforeseeable future, people will need to need to worry about how these micro-stressors impact their quality of life and their overall-all health.
What are your overall strategies for dealing with micro-stressors now and in the future?
The Early Impacts of COVID-19 on the Community College Student Experience
- Students’ working hours were impacted: Of the 74% of students who worked and attended college prior to COVID-19, 61% reported their work hours were reduced. Among these students, 7% lost their job. Of the students whose hours were not reduced and who did not lose their job, 52% reported their work hours increased as a result of the pandemic.
- More students preferred hybrid classes: When asked which of three instructional formats they preferred, 42% of students chose in-class only instruction, 46% chose hybrid classes, and 12% reported they preferred online only instruction.
- Finding a job, feeling isolated and paying for school were among the students’ top concerns: The survey asked students to indicate their level of concern—slightly concerned, somewhat concerned or very concerned—about several topics. When the responses were combined, students indicated the most concern about the following topics:
- Finding a job after completing their educational goals 76%
- Feeling isolated 75%
- Paying for their education 73%
- Access to health care 65%
- Access to mental health services 58%
by Linda L. Garcia, Mike Bohlig and Courtney Adkins, from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, July 10, 2020.
Twenty-five community colleges from 10 states administered a free online survey focused on how students were managing all the changes that came with the pandemic. Highlighted are some of the results from nearly 13,000 student responses.
Important to note is that 88% of respondents agreed that their college had been generally supportive of them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also noteworthy is that 36% of Black or African American students said accessing a reliable computer or laptop was a challenge, compared with 24% of Hispanic or Latinx students and 14% of White students.Also, 67% of Black or African American students expressed concern about having enough food for themselves and/or their family, compared with 60% of Hispanic or Latinx students and 44% of White students.
As colleges plan their fall semester, they must address these inequities in student learning environments, which we know impact students when we’re not in a pandemic situation.