The following joint message is from the presidents of Cayuga Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Onondaga Community College.
Students and their families, many of whom have recently lost jobs or had their hours reduced, face an uncertain future. Many are understandably questioning the choices that just a few months ago seemed certain. A recent study released by Junior Achievement and Citizens Bank found that almost 60% of high school students are concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their future plans, with 44% concerned about affording college and a third planning to delay the start of college.
While there is much about the “new normal” that is unknown, the benefits of college to students and families remain strong.
As community colleges, our sector’s return on students’ educational investment is substantial. While community colleges are perhaps best known for their tuition affordability, we provide nearly an eight-fold return on educational investment and are the most flexible educational bridge.
We are not driven by deadlines and deposits. Instead we meet people where they are, even in a pandemic, and provide a bridge to many destinations. For recent high school graduates, we are their bridge to a career, a junior-year transfer to a four-year school, and as many are thinking this year in particular, a visiting gap year at your community’s college.
Students may be thinking about putting the future on hold. As parents, we know that helping our kids make good choices now to keep moving forward, even when it feels hard or different, helps prepare them for a lifetime as a family member, an employee, a leader, and as a member of a community.
We have great confidence in this upcoming group of young people for their tenacity and grit that will no doubt change the world. To the Class of 2020, your community college is ready to serve you however that makes sense for you and your family. You are our community, and we are yours.
Together we will get through this. And that amazing future you envisioned a few months ago? It’s still there, and so are we. Go for it.
Dr. Brian M. Durant, President, Cayuga Community College
Randy VanWagoner, Ph.D., President, Mohawk Valley Community College
Dr. Casey Crabill, President, Onondaga Community College