This is it. A new academic year and a new semester begins today at Lorain County Community College. And while this semester is a bit different than previous years, the excitement and energy in our students, staff, faculty and administrators remain high.
We’ve been working all summer to prepare for this moment, as we welcome back returning students who continue to work toward their goals; and we welcome for the first time our new students, just starting their educational journey.
And this year, we also welcome many students who planned to be elsewhere this semester but changed their plans in order to stay home and stay safe. With the option to take online classes through a four-university – with a four-year university price tag – or take online classes at LCCC’s low tuition rate, many students found choosing their community college to be an easy decision. Students like Paige Dillen, who a few months ago was prepared to attend a university and live on campus. The coronavirus pandemic caused her to rethink her plans, and now she’s looking forward to completing her first years at LCCC on a Trustee Award scholarship before she transfers.
“One of the biggest benefits of LCCC is how many opportunities you are presented with, at a low cost,” Paige said. “I would prefer to take online classes for free than for a couple thousand dollars.”
And by staying on track, rather than taking a year off, LCCC students like Paige will graduate sooner and earn more during their careers. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that delaying college for a year could cost those who would’ve graduated in 2024 $90,000 in lifetime earnings.
A career earnings gap that wide makes a significant impact on the upward mobility of our students, their families and our community. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve worked diligently to adjust and re-invent the LCCC student experience in this COVID world. To help our students persist in their education, we are navigating a new world, adapting to a new normal and blazing the trail for what the future holds. Through everything, the core of our focus can be summarized in LCCC’s Three Guiding Principles: Safety, Stability, and Student Success.
Health and safety are the cornerstones of each decision made for the new semester. To keep our LCCC family safe, the majority of classes this fall semester will be delivered online, including a new option for online live classes, which meet virtually at a designated time each week and allow students to interact with their professor and classmates.
These varied course delivery methods are one of the ways we’ve adapted this semester to meet the needs of our community. We know the pandemic has brought many hardships for our students, including food insecurity and financial struggles. To ensure every student has what they need to succeed, we’ve adopted what I call the LCCC Promise: a pledge that no student will go hungry or without the technology needed for their classes. These services and much more are available through LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC), our one-stop connection point for student resources.
Delivering top notch academic programs and student services while operating on a modest budget is a cornerstone of our institution. In the current economic downturn, state funding for higher education remains uncertain – especially for community colleges. To meet this challenge, our administrative team has prepared for continued reductions in state funding, while continuing to offer high quality programs to our students at a low tuition rate. This financial stability is what has driven LCCC’s long history of serving our community, and I have every confidence that it will continue.
By applying resources with a focus on equity, we are prepared to meet each student where they are and ensure they have every opportunity to achieve their goals in this new semester and beyond. These ideals were reinforced by Dr. Karen Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, in her keynote address to LCCC faculty and staff during our virtual Convocation program. Dr. Stout’s wisdom and enthusiasm reignited in each of us the drive to reimagine what the future holds for our college and our students.
“This is the moment for community colleges,” Dr. Stout said. “This is the moment for Lorain County Community College. This is the moment for you to bring leadership and excellence to your community and to the country. This is the moment to make more Dreams come true.”
This is an unprecedented time, and it’s also an exciting time. As each student begins class today, they are seizing the moment and investing in a better future – for themselves, for their families and for our community. I can’t wait to see what they achieve.
Let’s get started.
Here is a video message I shared with students earlier today to welcome them to the new semester.