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January 29, 2021 · OPINION

Community colleges need more advisors for students

Contributed Photo
The Fauquier campus of Lord Fairfax Community College just south of Warrenton.
By Kimberly P. Blosser
and John A. Downey

Community College Presidents

Community college students and prospective students are facing substantial challenges right now. The pandemic has left many unemployed or underemployed.

Trying to make ends meet while also navigating the process of matching existing skills, previous experience and career aspirations to enroll in higher education is daunting. Furthermore, all this is happening at a time when employers are seeking workers with the specific skills taught in our community colleges.

For students needing support getting started, community colleges pride themselves on having advisors dedicated to helping. Last fall, a recently laid-off single mom (Jane) called our college wanting to get enrolled in a program so she could get back into the workforce.

Jane’s advisor talked with her, listened to the challenges she was facing and walked her through the steps necessary to get into her first classes. Our advisor helped Jane get through the financial aid process, helped her check out a laptop, and provided her with an internet hotspot so she could do her online classes from home.

At the end of the fall semester, Jane had earned an A and a B in her first two classes, all while helping her young daughter with her own online schooling. Jane and her advisor continue to talk every month, and she is feeling much more confident about completing her program and starting a new career.

This is why our advisors are so important. Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) are seeking an additional $5 million in the 2021 General Assembly session so more advisors can be hired to support our students. This additional funding will also ensure that the Governor’s G3 (Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back) initiative is put to its most effective use.

G3 students will be supported by advisors who provide onboarding support, financial counseling and career planning to get into the program pathways that will directly lead to a well-paying job or a seamless transfer into a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree.

The G3 program will make higher education more accessible to low- and middle-income individuals like Jane by providing financial support for tuition, textbooks and living expenses. Not only will it help students consider those career pathways that are in high demand, but will also help match well-trained workers to local employers who desperately need them.

Our community college advisors will help those students navigate the pathways to achieve their goals and help them access career and technical training programs in the high-demand fields of healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety.

Our region needs these workers more than ever. Graduates from G3 program areas are indeed the “essential workers” of our times.

Dr. Blosser and Dr. Downey serves as the presidents, respectively, of Lord Fairfax Community College and Blue Ridge Community College.
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TADD · January 31, 2021 at 1:07 pm
Does the general public know the four women fields, social work, nursing, teachers and secretaries are in the trenches to help the community. Hire more social workers so the ones we have get time to uplift the poor out of poverty. Instead of college advisors, give money to get more social workers. Another occupation that gets taken advantage of and work under extreme conditions. Professors, take a pay cut if you want more fluff. Why don't you volunteer your time and give back to the community.
TADD · January 31, 2021 at 9:30 am
Teachers...start looking at where tax payers monies are going. Fund American teachers first. No more excuses. Let professors do more with less.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · January 30, 2021 at 9:51 pm
I have attended three different colleges. One of my professors was always my advisor. Tell your professors to get up and do their jobs. Why hire more staff and absorb more funds? The professors are overpaid and overrated in comparison with our teachers who over 50 percent apparently have their master's degree and they have certificates to branch off and specialize in their areas. These women teachers need more pay and it is high time our leaders started to put them on the front burners. Our leaders should be very vocal that millions of dollars spent on advisors when the professors use to do this for their students should be given directly into the pockets of our fine educators. Teachers, please start becoming vocal together. Teach your students, show them the way to advocate for themselves by advocating for yourselves. You have been sorely neglected for so long. IT IS TIME. Start demanding funds get put towards increasing salaries to match the male fields. There are some professional men fields that have lunch, go to the bathroom, take breaks and yet you are expected to perform miracles. I have know men that have the time to sit at their desks and play games and watch movies. The gig is up.
BestKeptSecrets · January 30, 2021 at 4:17 pm
Five million should be going to our public schools, period. Our public school educators are highly underpaid and now the community colleges want to seek even more monies to help themselves. Start focusing on the public schools and their lack of resources to raise teachers salaries, benefits. The community college gets paid per course, raise the tuition again or fund raise yourselves like the teachers have too. The public schools have to beg for more money.
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