Wcccd Online Classes

Wcccd Online Classes

Wcccd Online Classes – Wayne County Community College District, or WC3, has six campuses across metro Detroit and serves a predominantly Black student body. (photo by Valaurian Waller)

When Chasidey Willis graduated from Mumford High School in 2017, she developed a plan to graduate from college on time.

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She enrolled at Wayne County Community College District and completed 16 to 18 credits each semester as a student-athlete while working part-time in a work-study program. Sleep was a rarity.

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However, the then-teenager finished his associate’s degree within two years. She transferred to a four-year school, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and is now completing her master’s degree in special education.

Scholars and researchers have touted that educational attainment is the key to economic success, as those with bachelor’s degrees tend to earn more each year than those with only a high school diploma. Only 15% of Detroit residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and economists have reported that, while wages in the city are expected to rise, Detroit residents will earn an average of $42,300 more than their more educated suburban counterparts over the. next five years.

However, Detroiters say graduation rates are an arbitrary measuring stick, given the personal circumstances of Wayne County Community College District (WC3) students and their varying personal and professional goals. Not every student seeks a degree, and about 81% of those who graduate from WC3 are employed upon graduation. Nearly half of graduates see an increase in their earnings, according to university reports. In Detroit, the nation’s blackest city, supporters of community colleges say two-year programs are a valuable method of increasing economic well-being, but expensive social systems can lengthen their educational journey.

Chasidey Willis, 22, graduated from Wayne County Community College District in 2019. She has since earned her bachelor’s degree and started working on her master’s degree. (Photo provided by Chasidey Willis)

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“We haven’t defined completion yet,” said Dr. Curtis Ivery, chancellor of WC3. “Someone went to community college and took one course in math or something, and after one semester, aren’t they a ‘completer’? What were their goals?”

Increasing completion across certificate and degree programs was part of the institution’s five-year strategic plan from 2015 to 2020. Other goals included technology and operational enhancements, professional development for staff, advancing local partnerships, and an increase in WC3’s community engagement efforts. WC3’s six campuses feature updated, modern designs, and nearly half of its students are enrolled through a mix of online and in-person classes. WC3 management says they were “highly visible,” which may have influenced metro Detroit voters in 2018 when they supported a new combined millage rate of 2.25 mills.

The financial support approved by voters could be a recognition that WC3 is more than an educational institution. The college offers support services to students that indirectly affect class participation. Some of the free services include a food pantry for groceries, vouchers for city transportation, a closet of donated clothes, emergency housing and mental health counselors for students who have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.

Willis said the support she received at WC3 was “completely different” than her four-year college at University of Massachusetts Lowell, a Division One school. Willis said she graduated on time because she dedicated herself to her studies and had constant support from her teammates, coaches, counselors and WC3 staff. They challenged her to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, and insisted that she attend study hall sessions.

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The Wayne County Community College District food pantry is available during the semester and through the holiday season to ensure students have access to food. (photo by Valaurian Waller)

“I honestly believe Wayne County was by far one of the best schools I’ve been to,” Willis said. “I would say I probably had a better experience at Wayne County” than her time at the four-year university.

Maya Williams began taking classes at WC3 in September 2019. The 20-year-old grew up in Detroit and is a graduate of Chandler Park Academy High School in Harper Woods.

Williams, an honors student, said quarantine has made school difficult. Studying at home wasn’t engaging, and logging on to a computer every day wasn’t the best way for her to learn.

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She was excited to be enrolled in psychology and art courses for the 2020 school year and spent $200 on supplies. However, she could not use the supplies for the classes during the pandemic.

Courtney Brown, 31, is about to start her second semester at WC3. The mother of two wants to earn her partner’s degree to become a detective. (photo by Valaurian Waller)

But she maintained a relationship with her advisor and is now enrolled and using the supplies in hybrid in-person and remote classes this semester.

Myles Dalton, 21, transferred from a community college in the suburbs to WC3 to play basketball for the school. He dreams of attending a four-year college and becoming a veterinarian.

Wayne County Community College District. District Office Catalog

During the coronavirus pandemic, Dalton said he struggled to keep up with his grades. He said his professors immediately contacted him to make sure he kept up with the class — a gesture Dalton said he’s never experienced at other schools.

“(Wayne County Community College District) is still a misunderstood building because people don’t understand the students we serve.” – Dr. Curtis Ivery, chancellor of Wayne County Community College District

Ivery expressed great concern for WC3 students during the coronavirus pandemic. He said students reported greater levels of stress and concerns about their mental health than he had seen before.

Joshua Warren, 20, also transferred from a suburban community college to WC3. Warren said he and other students met with Ivery in November when they were asked to share their experiences as students. He said the conversation bounced around issues of race, equality, adjusting to the pandemic and “making it in life.”

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About 35% of Wayne County Community College District students attend online classes, and 49% attend a mix of online and in-person classes since the coronavirus pandemic. (photo by Valaurian Waller)

According to Ivery, some Detroit students face barriers to success unlike community college students in more rural parts of the state. Some students face a lack of reliable transportation, access to affordable and quality child care, stable housing and food. School administration also said students reported an increase in mental and emotional stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 88% of WC3 students are enrolled part-time, and nearly 40% of the students are first-generation college students. Most of the college’s students are people of color, reflecting the majority of Detroit’s Black population, and most of the students are women.

Courtney Brown, 31, enrolled at WC3 to give herself “a chance at a different career”. Brown previously worked in retail and decided it wasn’t what she wanted to do. Her passion for murder-mystery games prompted her to think about earning her associate of applied sciences to become a detective.

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Myles Dalton, 21, transferred from a community college in the suburbs to WC3 and will play basketball for the school. (photo by Valaurian Waller)

The Detroit Central High School graduate had no trouble finding childcare for her children, ages 4 and 1, but she admitted getting to school on time is difficult because of the lack of reliable public transportation. However, she remains undeterred entering her second semester, and hopes to graduate by fall 2024.

“I’m not going to let it stop me or discourage me,” she said. “I’m going to get my associate’s degree.”

Brown said her WC3 professors and classmates have been extremely supportive, and she feels she can ask for help when needed. She is impressed with the school facilities, such as the computer lab where she can complete her work – an advantage not afforded to her in high school. She also attended a career fair on campus to see how employers interact with students.

Wayne County Community College District

As community colleges like WC3 continue to support the educational and professional goals of Detroiters, the expectation of hiring Detroiters, whether they have a degree or just a few classes, will be placed on the City and its relationship with incoming employers, along with other policymakers and organizations.

Community college should be an economical and practical way for Detroiters to gain professional skills for the area’s upcoming tech jobs. Recent state reports highlight new job opportunities coming to the state as the unemployment rate continues to decline.

However, questions remain about whether Black and Brown Detroiters will be provided with new job opportunities in the city.

“We would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact of race and (how it) affects opportunity,” said Portia Roberson, executive director of Focus: HOPE. “It has everything to do with your access to jobs at a later stage.”

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Roberson runs the Detroit nonprofit that works against racism, poverty and injustice. The organization has developed workforce training programs that provide scholarships to Detroiters who are learning new skills to advance their job potential. By paying residents while they learn, students are more likely to be able to maintain their home life and increase the chance of completing an education or workforce program.

This piece is part of a collaboration

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