Education Matters: Keeping community colleges alive during a pandemic

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Community colleges throughout the state have seen their enrollments drop since the pandemic and the switch to online learning.

But Fresno City College is working to re-engage students and get them back to class. Except for a few courses, the majority of classes at community colleges like Fresno City College currently remain online.

“The transition was not easy,” said student Ernie Martinez. “I’m still trying to fully transition at this time.”

Unlike 18-year-old Ernie Martinez, many students never made that transition to online learning and never returned to college.

“This last fiscal year through COVID we’re down 9%,” said Dean of Students Monica Cuevas.

Enrollment is not only down at Fresno City College but throughout the state. System-wide, community colleges have experienced an 11-12% decline.

“I hear words like overwhelmed, frustrating, need to work, stressed, need to watch my children,” said Dean of Student Success and Learning Donna Cooper. “There’s a lot of issues impacting our students.”

Community college students can include those right out of high school, as well as those who are older with jobs and families.

FCC officials say some believe that just because the campus is closed so are services.

“I think part of it is just making students aware: like, we are here. We provide hangout spots in our tutoring rooms for students to just come in and go into a breakout room and study and if they need help, they can ask.”

While the tutoring service has moved online, the library is open for a few hours during the day and the computer lab by appointment.

Fresno City College is reaching out in other ways: its food pantry open to help students in need and the career and employment center helping them find jobs. Officials are doing all they can to get students to continue their education.

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