Erin Davison, Communications Studies Department Head at Edmonds Community College, recently summarized the needs of students in order to succeed. Here is the report:
Listening directly to the voices of students is vital to community colleges’ future relevance and success in serving their community. The Student Voices Project was launched in January 2017 to provide student-centered data on their college experience, and to enhance the statistical data on student enrollment and completion.
Ten 90-minute focus groups were conducted across the four chapters of student progression: access, enrollment, progression and completion. The data resulted in five major themes: challenges, communication, advising, pathways for success, and community.
First, Edmonds Community College students have a variety of motivations for attending college which also reflected some of the outside challenges they face to be successful.
Challenges: Some of the challenges students mentioned were navigating financial aid, navigating the transferring process, gaps in resources and outside challenges such as work and housing.
Communication: Edmonds students also related that communication issues were a challenge to their success. Students reported that unclear information, hard to find information, and misinformation impacted their use of helpful resources on campus.
Advising was reported to be both helpful resource and a challenge for students. Student narratives recognize the need for advising and it was vital to understanding their personal college pathway.
In the theme of Pathways for Success, students recounted many helpful resources, learning strategies and other things that helped them to stay motivated with their goals and to remain at Edmonds despite the challenges they face.
Finally, Community was a theme that significantly contributed to student success. Personal connections with instructors and staff made a big impact on students and helping them stay at Edmonds. Anytime they talked about helpful resources, they also usually named a specific person that helped them. Students reported knowing they could talk to that personal connection even if it wasn’t a part of that person’s responsibilities.
Going forward, we realize that Edmonds students face and overcome many challenges while at college, but there are also ways we, as individuals and a college, can contribute to their success through our communication, providing resources, and sense of community.
-Editor’s note: The Student Voices report was recently presented at an Edmonds Community College Foundation board retreat. The foundation helps transform lives by supporting access, excellence, and success. To learn more about the foundation and the Hernandez-Foy Second Chance Endowed Scholarship, see here.