Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some ideas for higher education institutions to better support students during this pandemic by taking action steps to offer more equitable opportunities.

• How can donors support colleges' efforts toward equity? 

• Read about the challenges with COVID-19 and the digital divide. 

Once a student steps out of college, it’s very hard to get them back. That’s a profound problem in higher education, and an even bigger one during a pandemic that has pushed students off campus to take all their courses online.

There are students who don’t have a quiet space to study and haven’t been able to complete an assignment since the coronavirus forced colleges to move all classes online. There are students who cannot participate in distance learning because they have no internet access, and because many cannot afford food and housing. As the pandemic deepens societal inequities, people who are keenly aware of both students’ needs and how college campuses work hold the power to help colleges serve their students well — particularly those who are hardest hit by the crisis.

Part of the CSU Student Success Network, the Middle Leadership Academy supports these educators in leading in their current roles. Because they are mid-level within the organization of our campuses and connect with students regularly, they are indispensable for ensuring that students can continue to learn and engage with their schools during this crisis.

In a session focused on understanding the effects of the pandemic on students, and particularly historically marginalized students, one participant said, “As educators, we are oriented to solve students’ problems. How do we support students and colleagues through this time with unfixable problems? Especially with the uncertainty of what’s next?”

Some great ideas that surfaced after intensive discussion and reflection included:

  • Provide one-stop online information for students.
  • Create campus maps of essential services
  • Provide technology.
  • Use summer learning differently
  • Help faculty and staff offer more equitable online learning.

Read the full article about equitable opportunities for college students by Andrea Venezia at EdSource.