Reflections on the 2020–21 academic year and preparing for the fall.

Dearest Professors,

I am writing the following letter to you because I owe you the gift of communicated knowledge.

You have been gracious, understanding, ingenious, and inventive in a time of great uncertainty and upheaval. You have done your very best to pivot, adapt, regroup, and march onward with limited resources in efforts to uphold a nationally acclaimed code of ethics. You have continued your work of preparing, nurturing, and supporting a generation of future social workers, all while juggling your own families’ needs for support and attention in…


By: Dr. Manuela Borzone

“By the end of the semester, students will…”

The language of student learning objectives (SLOs), expressed in phrases like the one above, is a common feature on college syllabi. Often, on the first day of class, students are introduced to the course and the instructor. They are made promises expressed in SLOs about the content they will study and the skills they will develop over the course of the semester or session. But what about instructor learning objectives?

By the end of the semester, instructors may have also learned a great deal about their students. They…


By: Earl Harris, Jr., Indiana State Representative, House District 2

In 2018 I attended National Alliance of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the conference sessions was on college students facing issues related to food and housing insecurities. I naively thought the percentage would be around 3–5%. I was wrong. The number is much higher.

More like above 40%.

It is an understatement to say this session changed things for me. I worked in public education for over twenty years and helping students continue their education post high school graduation is important to me.

As a State…


By: Rainesford Stauffer

Someone recently told me about an app their elementary schooler was supposed to be using. Or rather, an app that was supposed to be scoring them. Evidently, their teachers added points throughout the (virtual and remote) school day and their parent(s) added points at home. Now, I’m far from an expert in educational technology, but I had some immediate thoughts. This app was another thing for an already-overworked-and-unpaid teacher to have to do. This app was another thing for an already-spread-too-thin parent to have to do. …


By: Ellie Bruecker, Senior Research Associate at SHSF

Should a student need a car to get to community college? For students at the Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC), situated on the outskirts of Indiana, Pennsylvania, it seems they do.

One route runs southeast of campus to the regional airport; another runs southwest of campus with a stop at a nearby golf course. But neither route runs directly to the college, and the nearest bus stop is just under one mile away, located in a mostly residential neighborhood on a route clearly designed to get people from where they live to…


By: Kesare Mowrer

My #RealCollege journey is not the kind you think of when you think of your typical “college student.” I graduated high school in 2011 and immediately enrolled at my local community college. Both of my parents were on social security income, so my tuition and books were to be fully funded by grants. I lived at home, so my expenses only included a meager rent charge from my mom and purchasing my own food to eat.

However, when I went to get my books, the clerk said, “Your total is $300.” Dumbfounded, I put the books back…


By: Martha Burtis, Matthew Cheney, Robin DeRosa, Hannah Hounsell, and Natalie Smith

Several years ago, when the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Plymouth State University was just beginning to develop a new pedagogical approach to its customized major program, a young sophomore named Tiffany Richards walked into our office.

A highly successful nursing student, Tiffany could no longer continue in her program because she had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, which meant that she could not get licensed to dispense medication as a nurse.

Despite the overwhelming challenge that this diagnosis presented to her, Tiffany was sure that she…


By: Barbara Gooch, Volunteer State Community College

The night air cools my room as I stumble out of bed, toward the door with the sound of wailing. I do this often throughout the night. It is a sound I cannot ignore no matter the absence of sleep. On the other side of the door is a little bundle of joy waiting for someone to hold him and take care of his needs. I promptly change his diaper and lay him to next to his mommy, who is slowly waking and expecting to feed him. …


By: Adam B. Jussel, Dean of Students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve heard “It’s fine,” a lot. From all corners of the campus — faculty, staff, and students. I’ve heard this, and it is somewhat cliché, but its apparent from this data that we are not okay. That given the number of stressors our students have experienced in the past year; it is clear that next year will be marked by increased trauma and stress.

In mid-March 2021 we received our #RealCollege institutional report. It was an odd mixture of excitement and fear — we had worked hard to get our student’s input and feedback…


By Collin-Kazu Lewis, Mt. Hood Community College (he/him)

During the month of June 2018, I enrolled as a student at Mt. Hood Community College. I was filled with great excitement and ambition of the new opportunity. Yet, I was also overcome with fear and anxiety as I had been a 15-year-old first-generation college student with no high school diploma, no GED, and in fact, only one year of experience in high school.

I stepped onto the college campus wearing my casual clothing that I wore in high school (this will make more sense later). Despite appearing confident on the outside, I was deeply confused and unsure of where…

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