Online impacts enrollment

With the last few college semesters transitioning to an online format in the midst of a global pandemic, more and more students are opting out of starting or returning to college while online is the only option to take classes. Community colleges had the sharpest decrease in enrollment for the fall semester.

Robert Morris, dean of enrollment management, turned to national statistics from insidehighered.com to make sense of such a decline.

“The hardest-hit programs include precision product, law enforcement and firefighting, and mechanical technology,” insidehigered.com said.

“There were plenty of reasons for this, and only having online learning options was certainly high on that list,” Morris said.

To combat this change in enrollment, JJC has “ramped up its online learning and tutoring services,” according to Dean of Students Cyndi Vasquez-Barrios.

“The Tutoring and Learning Center offers online one-on-one appointments with trained professional and peer tutors. Tutors provide students with 45-minute appointments for a variety of courses. Students and tutors will be able to see each other and can also work on a shared whiteboard,” Vasquez-Barrios said.

A new service that includes virtual online study groups is also being offered. Administered by tutors, students have the opportunity to virtually interact with their peers. Support is available 24/7 for JJC students due to the pandemic.

Students may make an appointment online or through email. Visit the Tutoring and Learning Center link on JJC’s website and click “Making a Virtual Tutoring Appointment.”

CARES has also been providing JJC with the funding to provide technology support via the Laptop Borrow program.

“Devices are available to borrow through the Learning Resource Center. Students are able to check out a device like other resources in the library,” Vasquez-Barrios said. “Students have access to Surface Go devices with Wi-Fi, Chromebooks, Stream books and Microsoft laptops. There are over 290 devices available for students to borrow.”

This isn’t the only form of support that CARES has to offer JJC students. As of Feb. 2, 2021, their grants have supported 627 students.

“To date, $10,705.99 were given back to students,” Vasquez-Barrios said.

Scholarships are also available to students thanks to the JJC Foundation, ranging anywhere from $200 – $1,000+ per scholarship. Applications for Fall 2021 scholarships opened on Feb. 1, 2021 and remain open until May 1, 2021.

The student petition process “provides students the option to appeal for a late refund, and or a late withdrawal due to extenuating circumstances, especially those impacted by COVID illness,” according to Vasquez-Barrios.

“That is available through the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities. For the academic year 2020-2021 so far, we have processed 198 requests of those 69 students received refunds and late withdrawals with an additional 14 students receiving a late withdrawal,” she said.

For those students that require less help academically and financially, Student Wellness offers assistance with any mental or emotional assistance needed for students having a particularly stressful semester.

JJC approved the creation of the new Student Mental Health and Wellness support services for students in the Fall of 2019. The department has been steadily staffed with additional students to meet the growing needs of students.

“Currently we have 3 clinically licensed mental health counselors that are Student Wellness Advocates. In addition, we have a full-time Case Management Coordinator, also clinically licensed, whose responsibilities include linking students to support service programs and agencies outside of JJC,” Vasquez-Barrios said.

The pressure on mental health due to the pandemic caused student wellness advocates and case managers to become certified in “online tele-mental health and developed online confidential counseling services for our students.”

Vasquez-Barrios was excited to announce that this structure has “worked out so well, that after the pandemic is behind us we intend on keeping this service available for students. This should be especially helpful to students that may not be at the main campus or have limited time for on-campus appointments.”

To learn more about the services the Student Mental Health and Wellness department has for students, go to jjc.edu and access their page under “Health & Wellness” in Student Resources.