Getting creative

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Campus closures haven’t stopped community colleges from prioritizing student success.

As the semester winds down, community colleges are finding unique ways to handle testing, to honor graduates and to prepare for the next semester during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parking lot labs

Thirty-two second-year nursing students at Central Maine Community College (CMCC) took an ATI exit exam recently in the “parking lot computer lab” at the college. They were able to take the test with proper social distancing and the required faculty proctoring.

The students completed the exam while sitting in their own vehicles, connected to the college’s Wi-Fi. This exit exam, which is factored into the students’ final grade, is also a predictive test designed to mimic the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) the students will be taking in the near future.

Like many colleges, CMCC provides free Wi-Fi in its parking lot for any student who lacks internet access at home.

Honoring graduates

Virtual commencement ceremonies are happening at colleges across the country. And some presidents are honoring graduates personally – with social distancing rules in place.

In April, 64 graduates of Wake Technical Community College’s Martha Mann Smith School of Nursing were honored at a special curbside pinning ceremony. Students remained in their cars while they received their pins. The nursing graduates were able to enter the workforce prior to taking their licensure exam to help support healthcare workers battling COVID-19.

Hundreds of Wallace State Community College 2020 graduates drove through campus May 7 to celebrate graduating from the college. An estimated 400 were greeted by cheering faculty and staff donning masks before stopping to receive a diploma cover and tassel from Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics.

“Today was full of joy,” Karolewics said in a release. “Our graduates appeared so grateful to have the opportunity to drive through and have something placed in their hand that they had worked so hard for. It was fun to see the family units drive by and see everyone share in the moment. It was a beautiful, special day.”

Looking forward

To recruit new students and welcome incoming students, virtual engagement has become vital.

One example is at New Jersey’s Mercer County Community College (MCCC). New virtual interaction efforts have brought students, families, administrators and faculty together. Interactive conferencing and virtual open houses are two of the many new ways people are connecting with the college.

MCCC recruiters are offering virtual one-on-ones to provide guidance to incoming graduating high school seniors and nearly a hundred high school counsellors as well as community groups in the region.

The college is offering 20 percent off tuition rates for the summer session.

Athletics, too, are going virtual with recruiting and try-outs. At Wallace State, cheerleading tryouts will be held virtually, with interested students submitting videos by May 15.

Videos must include a standing tuck; backhand spring and backhand spring tuck; specialty standing tumbling; specialty running pass; a fight song with standing tuck; toss extension and toss platform lib, and a stunt sequence, among other requirements.

How are you getting creative to help students? Sound off at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.