Colleges around the country are scrambling to adapt their operations to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Scaling up online learning platforms and transitioning courses to support online learning is an important step most colleges have already taken.
The disruption to student life, however, goes far beyond the classroom and learning activities. Even during more ‘normal’ times, students often struggle to remain engaged, despite myriad campus support services like academic advising & success coaches. A recent survey by Inside Higher Ed reveals real concerns over mental health, persistence, and equity/access.
In a previous blog post we highlighted how some student populations are more vulnerable than others, and how tools designed around self-serve advising and aligning academics to careers can help overcome many barriers to success. This is amplified even more with the COVID-19 crisis. Digitizing advising and scaling up online advising rapidly is crucial. Many campuses are rushing to bridge the digital gap, by filling the needs of computers and broadband access of lower income students. However, this does not address the advising gap that lower income and first generation learners suffer from. Support and counseling from family and friends at home is not available to everyone. This counseling and information gap is exacerbated in this current environment when students don’t have access to regular campus support services.
The next few weeks will see thousands of advisors doing their best to work with online meeting/scheduling platforms and support as many students as possible. Large caseloads, overflowing email inboxes and pressures at home, make it doubly difficult for academic advisors to support all students equally. Degree Audit reports are clunky and challenging to access from home, and aligning various stakeholders to student success is challenging. Basic information exchange will take up whatever little student-advisor interaction time is available.
The only way this information gap can be bridged is by empowering students directly with the information they need, so academic advisors and coaches can use their time for high value conversations with students most in need.
Pragya’s mission is to help students, advisors and administrators rise above these challenges and persist vigorously towards academic & career success. To support the HigherEd community during this trying time, Pragya is making all its products available at no cost, including on-boarding and implementation, through 2020.