The COVID-19 pandemic forced many colleges to move online by mid-March 2020, with little preparation time to serve new student needs arising from the health crisis. As faculty, administrators, and staff at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) shifted gears to online learning, the group that runs the Male Student Success Initiative (MSSI)—which MDRC is studying in the Men of Color College Achievement (MoCCA) Project—took extra measures to deepen its commitment to supporting and mentoring its students.

MSSI includes an ambitious set of research-based services to support male students of color, including a first-year student success course geared toward the experiences of men of color, mentoring from MSSI success mentors (program staff members who are men of color as well), connections with student support services on campus, leadership and professional development opportunities, and community-building activities that reflect racial and ethnic identities. For many MSSI students, the college’s move online presented new challenges. The college addressed these challenges in four ways.

Prior research shows that time management contributes to college success. For many MSSI students, online learning proved challenging.

Some MSSI students also faced new work-life challenges while adjusting to self-guided online learning. “Now that I have the luxury of—I can do anything I want, I find myself procrastinating a lot,” said one student.

Because many students took on part-time or full-time work during the pandemic, instructors teaching the required MSSI first-year student success course modified its content and due dates. One instructor advanced the course’s time management unit to the second week of class to help students better manage during the new, challenging circumstances. Instructors adopted more flexible due dates for assignments to accommodate students’ work schedules and tech troubles.

Read the full article about supporting male students of color by Erika B. Lewy at MDRC.