Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Brookdale Community College needed to transition to an entirely remote learning environment while still ensuring students were provided not only with the high educational standards they were used to in the classroom but also had access to all the student services they were accustomed to utilizing and contributed to their success.

“I think we are doing better than any other community college in the state with transitioning our student services,” said Dr. Yesenia Madas, associate vice president of student affairs for Brookdale Community College. “It is pretty remarkable that despite being in this environment, we were able to respond very quickly. I feel very proud that we didn’t miss a beat,” she said.

Academic advising is a service many Brookdale students rely on, and the department was able to quickly transition to a remote environment. “We have been able to provide our students with the services they need and expect,” said Suzanne Rauso, director of academic advising and One Stop services.

Advising has been flexible with the way they are communicating students in the virtual environment. “Many of our students prefer face-to-face meetings, and we have been able to do that with Zoom, Face Time, or other technology,” she said.

The use of multiple technologies to reach students and accommodate their needs seems to be a trend across the student services departments.

“We have been offering phone calls, emails and Zoom conferences in lieu of in person contact to support students,” said Jessica Mangold, student success coach with the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at Brookdale.

Career and Leadership Development, another student service offered at the college, was able to continue offering students one-on-one appointments via Zoom and over the phone. According to Dr. Sarah McElroy, director of Career and Leadership Development at Brookdale, the transition to virtual services allowed the department to add even more technology available to students, such as Big Interview, which gives students the ability to practice interview skills and get feedback. In addition, the department added new ways for students to explore career options and academic majors.

In addition to offering new technology, Career and Leadership Development also worked with employers so students, as well as alumni, can continue to get updated information online about companies that are hiring. “Overall, we have gotten positive feedback about our move to online and virtual services,” McElroy said.

The Admissions Team also worked with different partners to ensure the department was able to function in this virtual environment. They have been working with StriveScan, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (ASCRAO) as well as others to ensure Brookdale’s presence at college fairs. According to Mary Beth Reilly, director of admissions for the college, having a presence at the college fairs “allows the team to meet students where they are.”

Like the college fairs, tours, Open Houses and other events also transitioned to an online environment. The admissions team is offering individual appointments via Zoom and phone calls, weekly online information sessions, and Virtual Apply Days. “In this regard, prospective students have the same opportunity for visits, just remotely,” said Reilly.

Brookdale Community College has worked hard to give its students, and future students, the options and services they relied on in different forms. While the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the way higher education is delivered, Brookdale ensured the health crisis did not challenge its mission of providing a high-quality education and the services students need to be successful.


Photo caption: The Career and Leadership Development team offers Brookdale students some encouragement online.