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Finding a new way, together

College Possible coaches help college students overcome housing issues and prepare for online learning

Jamie Rickert

As colleges and universities close residence halls and move to online learning — taking action to protect students and staff from the spread of the coronavirus — students in College Possible are adapting to the changes this semester.

“The biggest challenge our students face right now is navigating unknowns,” said College Possible College Program Coordinator Jamie Rickert. “Colleges and universities have to operate differently than they ever have before and information is constantly changing.”

College students aren’t alone through this. College Possible serves nearly 1,200 college students in Nebraska and throughout the country. More than 600 of those students are enrolled at University of Nebraska Omaha.

Students receive support from their near-peer coach throughout the year to help navigate school and overcome potential barriers to reenrollment or graduation. Typical barriers include work and home responsibilities, account balances, financial aid verification and more.

“College students are feeling the same weight of uncertainty that we are all feeling, unsure if the technology they have at home is enough to complete their class requirements, be able to pay their bills, or help support their families. Our college students are up against enormous barriers, but College Possible will remain here to help them navigate all of these uncertainties,” said College Possible College Program Manager Alisha Limoges.

Housing Insecurity

Following the news of dorm closures, many students on campus were able to return home and live with parents or family, but that wasn’t the case for everyone.

AmeriCorps College Coach Liz Kurtz helped a student from Hastings College find a safe place to live.

“Usually when students come to me, their problems are solvable. The problems students face right now are hard, so finding the solutions is more difficult,” she said.

Liz helped the student self-advocate, locate emergency housing resources and consider alternative, long-term housing options. The school was also supportive during this transition.

Online Learning Sessions

University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton University and all area colleges are taking their classrooms online for the remainder of the semester.

Tiauna Lewis

To help students prepare and succeed in the new school environment, College Possible AmeriCorps College Coaches put together presentations about best online learning practices. These include time management, prioritization, study habits, balancing family demands, and overcoming procrastination.

“The purpose of our online learning presentation is to equip students with tools to handle the adjustment to remote learning,” said Tiauna Lewis, College Possible AmeriCorps College Coach at University of Nebraska Omaha. “This is especially useful if they are living with their families who may not know all the demands college students are facing right now.”

Coaches began these best practice presentations Monday and they will take place throughout the week.

“Students have been taking initiative with the University and their colleges to prepare for what is next. Going completely online will be an adjustment and they do not know how all the

Cameron Anderson

things will end,” said College Possible AmeriCorps Coach Cameron Anderson.

As students navigate online advising, registration and coursework with support of their families, schools and coaches, the goal is to continue education and class enrollment next semester.

“While no one is sure how moving entire campuses to online learning platforms will go, we are confident our students will display the same level of perseverance and resiliency that got them into college in the first place,” said Limoges.

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Read more recent news articles from College Possible Omaha here.

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