Low-income college students are dropping out at an alarming rate due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Sept. 16 article in The Washington Post. The virus has presented an array of challenges for these students, and BGSU has met those challenges head-on.
“One of the benefits of the pandemic is that lower-income students’ issues have come up the food chain,” academic adviser Bob Kline said. “Now the discussion is not do these problems exist, rather it is what we can do to serve students.”
Toni Gordon, Assistant Director for Diversity Education and Retention Initiatives said, “The Dean of Students office and other areas have tried to make resources more prevalent.”
One resource is the student emergency fund, which is administered through the Dean of Students’ office. The emergency fund, established at the beginning of the pandemic and funded by donations, has helped students pay rent and other bills.
Gordon said offices on campus could help students find food sources as well. “If you are in the moment struggling to eat, they will give you meals,” she said. “They are not going to leave you hungry.”
She said the university has “ample connections to different resources” so students can get the help that they need. This help could also be in the form of student employment.
“We are still hiring,” said Dawn Chong, the director of student employment. She said while some employers have had to go without student employment due to budget cuts, other offices need student employees to better function.
Whether BGSU can maintain its current overall 79.4% retention rate, the highest in a century as announced by the university in September, is the question.
Chong said she is confident that the retention rate will remain high. “There are so many different issues and reasons that play into retention, the virus has just presented new ones,” Chong said.
On the other hand, Kline said there could be a higher percentage of freshmen that drop out. “The transition from high school to college has been challenging to address, given the isolation students feel by not being on campus,” he said.