Supporting one another
VCU created a network of resources and support for every Ram to find ways to thrive and flourish. Many of the services VCU students relied on in person quickly moved to an online format, allowing students to continue to access them even while remote. Services included counseling, health, tutoring, recreational sports, libraries, technology, student organizations and activities, advising, career services, accessibility and educational support, student services and financial management centers, and multicultural student affairs, among others.
While remote, the financial counselors and academic advisers continued to offer services remotely, helping students learn about emergency relief funds, learning support, implications for course withdrawals and pass/fail grades.
In March, VCU launched the Student Financial Management Center to take a more proactive approach to supporting students beyond financial aid. The center focuses on providing outreach, literacy, financial case management and counseling to students, parents, families and others to proactively and successfully address the financial needs of VCU’s diverse student body and facilitate the efficiency and effectiveness of student financial services. Each student is assigned a financial counselor to work alongside the academic adviser, so students have a team working with them to navigate their academic journey.
Major maps, an online career and academic planning tool, launched well before the pandemic and has been a critical asset for students during remote learning. The tool is more than just a checklist for graduation, it charts out potential career options and opportunities based on a student’s individual interests and aspirations. These maps enable students, family, academic advisers, faculty and career counselors alike to identify a student’s end goal and create an individualized plan to help them get there in their own unique way. The tool helps students make the most of their time at VCU and empowers them to get what they want out of their academic experience.
Once protocols were established for limited reopening, the university focused on offering these services both in person and in an online format so that students could continue to access them no matter if they were attending campus in person or remote. For example, VCU Libraries reopened with limited hours, but also offered front-door pickup for physical materials, and they expanded their online services to continue to support research and instruction. VCU’s Campus Learning Center did not skip a beat and continued offering all of its services, allowing students to choose whether to access tutoring and coaching services in person or via Zoom. VCU Recreational Sports facilities temporarily closed, but offered virtual programming and then reopened while continuing to offer virtual group exercise and other programming.