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Claudia Schrader, the principal of Kingsboro Community College in Brooklyn, New York, is preparing for the meeting that day. She put on a pair of bright blue sneakers, a professional black tight-fitting dress with a casual atmosphere, and a navy blue mask with an orange academy logo. She walked out of the office and was surrounded by two public safety officials, her communication and governance relations manager, and her special project manager.

Schrader sat in the back seat of one of the two minivans she and her entourage were in, chatting with the driver about the best route to the destination. Three off-campus meetings were scheduled on this day, all of which were held with students who will be attending university in the fall of next year.

Since Schrader started visiting students about to enroll at the height of the epidemic last summer, these driving have become routine, and they were unable to attend classes in person on the Manhattan Beach campus. Since the students could not come to the campus, she decided to bring them a little bit of campus. Schrader called these visits her “welcome car.”

“This is a great way to connect with students, and it’s a great way for students to connect with the college before they set foot on campus,” she said.

She will meet with students outside their home or workplace, usually during their lunch break. After a personal introduction and a short conversation-she asked them why they chose Kingsboro, how they decided on their majors and their plans after graduation-she gave them the stolen goods of the Kingsboro brand: thermos, masks and T The shirt is hidden in a navy blue drawstring bag.

The meeting lasts from 5 to 15 minutes. Between June and September last year, she met with 50 students and hopes to meet as many new students as possible before the start of the fall semester.

In recent years, university administrators have found multiple ways to bring personal style to their campus work.Michael Lovell, President of Marquette University in Milwaukee Invite students Join him in his daily running. Edward Burger, former president of Southwestern University of Texas Wandering around A golf cart on campus chats with students. Zach P. Messitte, President of Ripon College of Wisconsin, send Approximately 100 personalized handwritten letters for potential students in 2016. Debra Schwinn, President of Palm Beach Atlantic University, arrangement Talk to the student’s personal Zoom.

At a time when many students say they feel isolated from the campus, these efforts to connect with students — and seen as more approachable — are more popular and appreciated.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said that in the past decade, campus leaders have increasingly embraced this hands-on approach.

“We have talked a lot about the importance of intrusive advice in education and ensuring that students have visible mentors throughout the process,” Pasquerella said. “One of the steps is that from the beginning, the leader said,’You are important to us and we serve you in your community. Not only in our home, but also in your home.'”

Pasqueira pointed out that the pandemic has made managers more aware that it is “everyone’s responsibility” to involve students, not just student life or admissions managers. She said that efforts like the welcome car are a “symbol” of this attitude of full participation.

The idea of ​​a welcome car comes to Schrader at the end of the 2019-20 school year. She said that when the face-to-face graduation ceremony was cancelled, she saw news reports of university staff visiting graduates’ homes across the country. She thought, why not do the same for future students?

“I am really worried about our upcoming students because they don’t know what autumn will bring,” she said.

Schrader, who has led the Academy for the past three years, usually greets students at the front door of the campus on the first day of class. But the students started the fall semester online last year. She believes that the welcome car is a way to “build a bridge between the unknown and the organization.” As the only community college in Brooklyn, Kingsboro Community College serves a large number of first-generation students, she said, these students may feel that they don’t know what to expect from higher education in the best of circumstances, let alone Pandemic on a global scale.

The agency also supply Many students of color, groups severely hit by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, and traditional college-age students between 18 and 22. In the fall of 2020, blacks in the student population accounted for 35.8%, Latinos accounted for 18.2%, and Latinos accounted for 25.6% of students. Higher than 25 years old. Approximately 65% ​​of students receive financial aid, and 51% are eligible for federal Pell grants.

Schrader also worried that students might postpone their studies because of the pandemic, because of the idea of ​​a completely online semester or feeling pressured by unemployment and reduced income. Like most community colleges, Kingsborough’s enrollment declined during the pandemic. The total enrollment of full-time and part-time students has fallen from 15,433 in the fall of 2019 to 15,284 in the fall of 2020. The number of students is 8,849 registered In the fall of 2020 degree programs, compared with the 9,936 students in the fall of 2019, this is a reduction of more than 11%.

She said: “Many of our students have lost their jobs because they work in the food industry or other places affected by the pandemic.” “Maybe part-time work is really difficult. Many of our students are faced with whether to protect and take care of their families or When deciding to go to school, the choice is clear.”

Schrader said she hopes that the welcome car can serve as a recruitment tool in times of uncertainty and fear.

She didn’t know what the result of the first visit to welcome station wagon was, but the one-on-one interaction “the students were really happy” inspired her.

“It’s great to see. After the last visit, I said,’This is really great…When will we do it again? I want to do it next week.'”

She said that she was sometimes too ambitious, and the special project manager had to slow her down and told her, “’Really, considering the traffic in New York City, you can’t see five people in three hours,’” she said laughingly.

When they were driving near Brooklyn, Schrader rolled down the car window and photographed classic red brick buildings and colorful murals on both sides of the street. She visited students from all five boroughs of Brooklyn and New York City. Once, she went to a shipyard to visit a maritime student who was about to enroll in school. Schrader said that during another visit, a student was afraid to talk outside her building because of the frequent drug dealings in her neighbourhood in the Bronx. Sometimes, Schrader would bring other administrators to visit. For example, she invited Carol Mason, the principal of John Jie College, and he also brought the stolen property from her institution to visit with three criminal justice students who are about to enroll because these two institutions have transfer channels in this field.

The response to Schrader’s visit varied. Some students greeted her with bright smiles and lively conversations; some invited her to their homes. The others were quiet and shy, standing shyly outside the house, shrugging their shoulders and lowering their eyes. Schrader said that sometimes parents will take out the camera. “I never know what I will get.”

Dillon Rust, a student about to study computer science, saw the university president and two of her colleagues taking pictures at his door last Thursday. Two public safety officials in plain clothes were waiting by the van. She looked Very confused. Rust told the president of the university that he didn’t like all the attention, but in answering her question, he shared some information about himself. He said that he is from Jamaica, proficient in computers, and hopes to transfer to an institution in Florida after graduating from Kingsboro. Before rushing back indoors, he asked her about the college’s vaccination policy.

Jose Albino, 40, met Schrader outside his apartment in Crown Heights. He was wearing jeans and a black baseball cap with white capital letters printed on the front of the hat. Brooklyn”. He eagerly tried on his new Kingsboro Community College mask. The father of six said that he is a housewife and had just obtained a high school equivalent in September last year. He plans to enter the university for the first time this fall to study business administration.

He told Schrader that his wife is educated and has a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, so his children will learn from his “failure” and his wife’s success.

“And your success,” Schrader replied. “I think you have succeeded because you decided to go back. You set an example.”

Albino said that this visit made him feel “very important.” The two collided with fists at the end of the conversation, and then Schrader left and went to the next house on the welcome carriage list.

Outside the radiology office where she works at the front desk, Renelsie Lenesta greets Schrader enthusiastically. The 35-year-old woman said that she started studying nursing at Kingsboro this fall to motivate her son to go to college one day, and she was “very, very excited” to sign up for the course.

“It’s like a day forever,” she said of her hope of earning a college degree. “It keeps trickling behind me. But I never set foot. I’m ready. I put my heart and soul into it, and I’m ready.”

Schrader asked Lenesta some questions about what prompted her to go to Kingsboro and what kind of nurse she wanted to be. Lenesta described her work in the radiology office and her past work in the dermatology office.

“I’m listening to the nurse, but I’m also listening to the doctor,” Schrader said.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Lenesta laughed. “That’s a lot.”

“Never say never.”

At the moment Schrader handed the freshman bag to the freshmen, she talked to them about various things: their university trip, their vaccination status or their attitude towards the COVID-19 vaccine. She asked if they needed anything before the start of the semester. She likes to follow up with them via email after they start class to understand the progress of the semester.

She hopes that the welcome car will become a tradition at Kingsboro Community College that will continue during the pandemic-and she believes that it will not only make students feel more welcome, but also invest more in their education.

Schrader said that when she came to Rutgers University as an undergraduate in 1986, she didn’t even know who the president of the university was. But she went to visit a friend at Spelman College in Atlanta and saw the principal walking around on campus, calling the students by name.

“I remember telling myself that if I had ever been a university president, it was the kind of university president I wanted to be… the welcome car is also an extension of it. As long as I’m here, it will always exist.”

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