Stay local this fall, local college president advises students

MCC President Dr. Johnette McKown suggests students in Central Texas stay close to home this fall. (Photo by Drake Lawson)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The McLennan County Community College campus is quiet now, but come fall, school officials are hoping to get students back into class.

"We are ready for them to be here," MCC President Dr. Johnette McKown said Friday.

And with the economic downturn, and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic McKown suggests students in Central Texas stay close to home this fall.

"This is such a great time to stay at home, if nothing else just because you save cost on relocating," McKown said.

"You are going to get an excellent education and you are going to do it without a lot of debt," she said.

Matthew Espinoza, an MCC graduate who’s continuing his education through Tarleton State University, agrees.

"COVID-19 impacted my decision because I wasn't quite sure if the virus would worsen come fall," says Espinoza.

He had planned to move to Stephenville this fall but recently decided against it.

"If I have to quarantine in my own apartment and be away from family for however long that might be then it would be devastating for me," says Espinoza.

"I would much rather be at home be and be quarantined here where I am a lot more comfortable," he says.

Instead deciding to enroll at Tarleton State through MCC’s University Center, which means he’ll attend classes here.

"The way I look at it is I am going to have the same certificate if I get it from Waco or Stephenville," he says.

As of now MCC is looking at a variety of options for the fall, including a hybrid model that includes both face-to-face and online instruction, and hopes to have plans firmed up as August approaches.

McKown was recently selected to the Higher Education Recovery Task Force, a group that's made of from 16 different states.

The group has a goal of looking at different ways to bring students back to class safely.

"This is a board to help all colleges as far as challenges and reopening," McKown said.

"We are discussing how to go online, how to return and how to look at the long term survival of colleges," she says.

McKown is just one of three representatives on the board from Texas, and the only one who is from a community college.

"I'm kind of the big cheerleader for community colleges," she said.