Roanoke’s WSLS ran a story last night looking at the impact of the recession on colleges and the students who attend them. The mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges – to address the commonwealth’s unmet needs in higher education – is proving to be critical for more and more people:
The recession is also forcing students already enrolled in four year universities to drop out, move home, and sign up at their local community college. And—those already in the work force—who’ve been layed off—are enrolling in community colleges. Virginia Western says they could be reasons behind the about 6-percent jump in its spring enrollment.
There’s a wire story appearing in news outlets across the continent this week noting that community colleges are at record enrollments — due to a tough economy. Written by Richmond’s Zinie Chen Sampson, the story features a Mathews family who has decided that Rappahannock Community College is a better alternative for the first two years of college.
Whitney Daniels and her mom are appearing on the websites of print and tv media from here to Anchorage, Los Angeles and Amarillo, in a week when political news otherwise dominates the newswaves.
And other local media folks are picking up on it, too, as students start back to school in record numbers at Virginia’s Community Colleges.
WVIR in Charlottesville quotes students as saying it just makes more sense to start out at the community college. There are “just a lot of opportunities…to come here, save money and do a two year degree program and then transfer to the school I want to go to,” says one student. “It’s just a whole lot easier to come here,” says another.
Of course the underlying theme is that the economy is weak, pushing demand for community college classes higher — just at a time when Virginia, along with many other states, faces shrinking budgets and may have to cut back on services.
Community colleges provide opportunities that deserve ocean-to-ocean news coverage. It’s too bad it takes budget cuts and weak economies to bring that to the limelight.
VaHigherEd Podcast: Episode 15– This week’s podcast features Virginia Western Community College student Stephen Jennings, who is finding the community college a great place to receive hands-on training for a third career in radiology.
Listen by clicking on the audio link above or downloading the link to VaHigherEd Podcast: Episode 15.
A task force assigned to study campus safety in Virginia’s community college system will hold a public meeting Thursday evening at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. The meeting, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. will be held in the auditorium of the Business Science Building.
The task force, made up of officials from the state’s community colleges, was formed in May to study emergency preparedness and response plans at the 40 campuses in Virginia.
The panel is also studying how to apply to community colleges the lessons from the report prepared for Gov. Tim Kaine on the Virginia Tech shootings. It will present its findings early next year to the Virginia Community College State Board.
Thursday’s meeting is the last in a series of three public meetings held this week throughout the state
Two main issues dominated the comments made to the panel: counseling resources and the posession of concealed weapons on campus.
A psychiatric nursing teacher talked about the challenges of helping students who are in need of counseling – but the processes and resources simply don’t exist to assist them. “The school of nursing is stressful, “she said. “We’ve had a student commit suicide after threatening faculty members. What should we do? Our hands are tied.”
A leader of the Citizens Defense League urged the panel to pursue only policies that would allow students, faculty and staff members over the age of 21, who have obtained handgun training and a concealed carry permit to carry their guns on campus. “You should be allowed to save yourself,” he said. “No one should be expelled or fired for carrying a gun. Adults shouldn’t be put in a place to die.”
That drew a response a response from a former U.S. Marine turned community college student. “I have a concealed carry permit but this is a learning environment,” she said. “I don’t want to know that twenty people can just open fire if something happens. Not everyone is accurate.”
Additional speakers also touched on the need for the police and security forces of Virginia’s 23 Community Colleges to communicate better and share best practices and retaining student records longer than currently done.
The taskforce next meets Tuesday, October 9 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus at the Ernst Center, in the Forum. The meeting will occur from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.The session will begin with a brief welcome and introduction from the taskforce and then focus on public comments.To ensure as many people as possible can speak to the taskforce, a time limit may be placed on individual comments.
If you would like to send comments to the taskforce, you can do via a dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.