Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Capital Connections – August 21, 2020
August 21, 2020
Earlier this week, I learned about feedback from an adult student displaced by the pandemic who has selected Westchester Community College to earn new credentials for new career opportunities. Her feedback included an appeal to review our processes from the lens of a returning adult suggesting that this may be starkly different than what we do for younger students. Listening to our new and continuing students allows us to give context to what we are observing through data alone. Community colleges are perfectly positioned to play a central role in educating and re-tooling many of our nation’s unemployed individuals.
We invest considerable resources in welcoming students to college life. As we support them through our Orientation programs, First Year Experience seminar, courses, clubs, workshops, and student activities, we should always check-in to be sure we truly understand what they need most. For example, many of our students don’t have access to business contacts or opportunities that can help them prepare to join the workforce or successfully navigate the 4-year college experience. Facilitating these connections may require more intention to ensure that students get information they need – especially in our remote environment. This is why it is so important for us to provide students with networking and professional experiences both within and beyond the classroom.
We know that the relationships students establish working with faculty and staff, at practicum sites, with our volunteers, and with each other helps them cultivate and develop social capital that opens new doors of opportunity. Learning more about what students bring to these experiences and how we can complement their existing assets as we introduce new skills could enhance this work. Here are two articles on the topic of social capital that you might find interesting.
https://www.jff.org/points-of-view/who-you-know-matters-more-ever-covid-19-job-market/ and https://www.jff.org/points-of-view/michael-collins-in-repairing-the-broken-connection-between-college-and-career/
Thank you for all you do for our students and for each other. Together, we offer a welcoming community that provides a foundation for developing the social capital and so much more that our students need.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles