The barriers facing college students are highlighted in a 2015 survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin. The survey of 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges across the nation revealed that twenty percent of students reported experiencing hunger and thirteen percent were homeless. This research showcases the challenges, often invisible to the public, that confront college students in the face of rising college costs. C2C is designed to connect students to the resources that cover their basic needs and then plug them into community in order to allow them to thrive on campus.
In Geauga County, the poverty rate is about 8%. Peer advocates are trained to help students find and use resources around the county to help with transportation, food, and housing insecurity, especially using the 211 hotline. The hotline is a free community service anyone can use to get information about social, health and government resources, supported by the United Way. The peer advocates have also helped at Next Step, a homeless shelter for young adults in Middlefield, Ohio. Through Connect2Complete, KSU Geauga is finding the best opportunities for their students to succeed and navigate the hidden rules of college life.
KSU Geauga's peer advocates are excited to work with students on campus and they feel like C2C is a great way to get more students engaged on campus. Currently peer advocates are placed in a Destination Kent State course and an introductory statistics class to build capacity. They have also worked with United Way, Geauga Leadership, and Ohio Means Jobs which are all wonderful resources students can go to in order to receive food benefits, learn about financial literacy, and get help with transportation. One peer advocate states “It is great that students now have someone to go to if they need help and don’t know where to start.”
A NPR recent article exploring the rising number of students facing hunger and homelessness, quoted a student who noted that “what helps me the most is people thinking that I’m going to make it.” The peer advocacy component of C2C not only gives students at KSU Geauga a supportive starting point to find resources, it provides a relationship of sustained connection that boosts the student throughout the year.
The C2C program is also acting as a kick-off in VISTA member Jake’s own professional path. He got involved with Ohio Campus Compact’s VISTA program because he wanted to improve other student’s college experience. By working with these students, he has seen the challenges of college many students face, but that are commonly ignored. This service experience has enhanced his desire to pursue a career in higher education administration, and he wants to continue to work with college students.
View Jake's bio.
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Written by Jake Yore, edited by Ava Carvour