By shrinking its physical footprint and creating more robust online learning options, Southern State Community College is moving into the future.
With the initial spread of COVID-19 in 2020, the college was forced to rethink its strategy for providing its students with accessible, affordable, high-quality education. Incoming SSCC President Dr. Nicole Roades said the college’s focus on developing personal connections with students while providing excellent remote learning options became more important than ever.
“It has been our goal for some time to give our students more flexible ways of earning a degree,” she said. “Maintaining a hands-on learning environment while also providing robust online learning options is a balance we’ve been striving for. In that respect, the experience of the pandemic really accelerated the process.”
Now, the college is continuing its shift to online education offerings with a smaller physical footprint and more remote classes.
In summer 2021, the college closed its North Campus in Wilmington, but continues to offer classes on the Wilmington College campus and online. Last fall, SSCC announced it would sell its Fayette County campus. Much of its programming will move to SSCC’s Central Campus in Hillsboro or go online.
Outgoing President Kevin Boys said when the pandemic reared its head in 2020, the college had to “turn on a dime.”
“We had to completely change our approach to teaching our students in order to help them continue on their path,” he said. “It was a matter of faculty and administration working together to figure out really quickly how to keep the process of teaching and learning the best we could.”
According to Boys, some of those changes involved purchasing new technology and equipment, such as additional WiFi hotspots and laptops for students to borrow, as well as training staff how to effectively conduct the college’s business remotely.
Roades applauded college staff for mobilizing to provide learning options for students during lockdown.
“We’re really proud of the ways we continued offering our students education at a time when that seemed impossible,” Roades said.
Roades added the same flexibility faculty and staff had to adopt has led the college into a new era.
“When we’re thinking about what our students want rather than what we’ve always done, we realize we have to adapt our focus and implement new strategies,” Roades said. “At the same time, we’re trying to maintain what many students have said is our strongest selling point — that we offer a friendly, face-to-face connection.”
Roades said it’s this focus on students’ wellbeing that has made the college a place where students can feel comfortable coming to class, whether in person or remote.
“This way, they’re never far from home,” Roades said.