Many people credit William Butler Yeats with having said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire.” But, a few scholars believe the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch actually originated something very similar. Whomever the source, the implication is that a true education involves more than merely gaining knowledge. Most employers will tell you this when they say that they need employees with “soft” (human relations) skills and the ability to think and solve problems.
Any good educator will certainly lead students to the latest knowledge in their field, but will also challenge students to look at different viewpoints and regard those with differing viewpoints as human and to treat them with respect, thus enhancing the students’ “soft” skills. An effective educator will facilitate scenarios that challenge students to enhance their thinking skills and require them to solve problems.
Education has the potential to change lives in many ways beyond just helping students learn stuff and get a job, though getting a job or a better job is a worthwhile goal in itself. Students have to live in the real world and living in the real world costs money. The idea though is that education can be so much more and good instructors introduce their students to those possibilities.
Likewise, educational institutions can be and do much more to enrich the lives of their students beyond merely training them for work. Such is the goal of Robeson Community College’s new Single Stop program.
The grant-funded Single Stop program seeks to match students with community services for which they might be eligible and which cannot only enhance their academic prospects, but also make their day-to-day lives better. Actually, those two goals are intertwined. If a student’s day-to-day life is improved, then his or her prospects for success in college are improved. It makes sense that if a student’s concerns about rent, food, transportation and health, among the other day-to-day matters, are alleviated, he or she will be better able to concentrate on his or her studies.
The Single Stop program offers students the opportunity to learn about and apply for community services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Women Infants and Children’s nutrition program, tax credits and health programs. Cynthia Quintero, who has long served in student services and as a sign language interpreter at Robeson Community College, serves as the coordinator for the Single Stop program. Quintero’s office also assists students with educational resources such as academic coaching.
By utilizing Single Stop, students can learn about and access a multitude of services in one place, hence the name, and that place is on the college campus so as to lessen the need to find time and transportation to obtain these services, factors which would otherwise likely take students away from school and potentially hinder their educational progress.
“Students can feel overwhelmed managing their work, life, and academic responsibilities,” Quintero said. “RCC’s Single Stop office is a place where students can go to talk to someone who is focused on addressing their needs and concerns in a welcoming environment, and who is genuine in helping them get connected to different resources.”
Single Stop is a national nonprofit organization that operates in nine states in four regions of the country. The organization received a grant from the North Carolina-based John M. Belk Endowment and opened a regional office in Raleigh in 2015. Initial participants in the state included four community colleges. In 2016 two more community colleges, one state university and one private university joined the program. Robeson Community College was selected to participate in 2017.
To learn more about Single Stop at Robeson Community College, visit www.robeson.edu/single-stop or visit the counseling and career office in the Fred G. Williams Student Center on the main campus.
Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer for Robeson Community College.