Employees manage busy first week of classes

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H. Drew Galloway, executive director of MOVE (Mobility. Organize. Vote. Empower.) San Antonio, informs students of the importance in voting and localized voting statistics during a lecture, “What is Your Civic Responsibility?” Sept. 1 in the Community Engagement Center. MOVE San Antonio will be registering students to vote Sept. 7 in the mall. Galloway answered questions about voter registration cards and worked with the American Association of Retired Persons to help students register to vote. Lunch and refreshments were provided. For more information on MOVE San Antonio, visit www.movesanantonio.org or call 210-396-0845 . Photo by Zachary-Taylor Wright

H. Drew Galloway, executive director of MOVE (Mobility. Organize. Vote. Empower.) San Antonio, informs students of the importance in voting and localized voting statistics during a lecture, “What is Your Civic Responsibility?” Sept. 1 in the Community Engagement Center. MOVE San Antonio will be registering students to vote Sept. 7 in the mall. Galloway answered questions about voter registration cards and worked with the American Association of Retired Persons to help students register to vote. Lunch and refreshments were provided. For more information on MOVE San Antonio, visit www.movesanantonio.org or call 210-396-0845 . Photo by Zachary-Taylor Wright

Register early, check ACES and stay positive, they advise students.

Faculty and staff at this college handled a variety of challenges the first week of school — from textbook shortages to technical difficulties to lost students.

They suggested strategies to make future semesters smoother. Nearly all of them agreed students must register earlier for classes.

Those who wait until the first week are selling themselves short, said Angelica Nevarez, advising and counseling administrative assistant.

“Students mostly come in the first week to add or drop classes,” she said Aug. 26. “Students should register early rather than having a select few to choose.”

However, the process is complicated, said English Professor Mary Anne Bernal, who empathized with students trying to navigate the system.

“It seems like students have to jump through a lot of hoops before they can get into the classroom,” Bernal said.

She said a positive attitude can help when registration and classes get difficult.

Some students faced another hurdle when the bookstore experienced a shortage of books. Manager Cole Johnson said students had to order through the publisher online, which takes a couple of days to be delivered, or they would try to get the books sent from another bookstore.

Johnson asked that students still try to shop in the campus bookstore first.

“The money spent in the store goes back into the school,” Johnson said. “Not sure if students are aware of that.”

Stephen Dingman, reference librarian, also fielded questions from students about obtaining textbooks, as well as setting up printing accounts. He said faculty members soon will begin scheduling appointments to bring students into library computer labs.

Throughout the first week of school, employees encountered students searching for their classrooms.

Marina Villanueva, senior student success specialist in the center for academic enrichment, helped students navigate the campus and their schedules.

“The first week was really busy for us,” she said. “We deal with all the first-time college students, students who are lost or dropped.”

Once registered, students should either find their classrooms before the first day or give themselves plenty of extra time to navigate campus, said administrative services specialist Paul Sanchez of the English, education, humanities and journalism department.

He also urged them to check their ACES accounts to avoid getting lost and being late.

“Students are not looking through ACES,” Sanchez said.

A few students were looking for classes that don’t exist anymore.

Architecture program coordinator Michael Connor said he had to explain to some that the school’s drafting program has been defunct for several years. He contends that this confusion is present in any semester.

“There’s an old adage — you form, storm and then norm,” Connor said. “When something new occurs, it normally takes a while for the storm to subside before normality takes over.”

Connor compared a faculty member’s job to that of a baseball umpire, who calls “balls and strikes over and over and over and over again their entire career.”

“You hope it’s not annoying to them because it’s their job,” he said.

Sometimes that job includes handling technical difficulties with old-school solutions.

Math and computer science Chair Said Fariabi said some students in algebra classes had trouble logging into My Lab Plus. Faculty simply printed their assignments.

Faculty and students can both experience a bumpy start to the semester, and their worlds usually collide in Canvas.

Charlie Young, an instructional designer at the instructional innovation center in the office of technology services, offered advice for students who might be prone to panicking if all the class material isn’t immediately perfect in Canvas.

“Eventually everything will be available,” Young said. “Give teachers more time to make the best possible class.”

Economics tutor Jill Keeton in the student learning assistance center said the SLAC lab has a rule of not turning students away to find answers elsewhere.

“We get students coming up here asking for a professor’s class because they haven’t looked at their student detail schedule in advance,” she said.

She recommended taking advantage of resources at the Duran Welcome Center, which opened last year at 1533 N. Main Ave.

“It would save students a lot of trouble, and maybe we can save them unnecessary trips,” Keeton said.

Terry Evernham, post assessment adviser, suggested that all staff members wear matching shirts so students know who can help them. Students, meanwhile, “should make sure they are aware of how to access their schedule.”

Certified adviser Phillip Casarez said students might need a high school introduction to college registration.

“I think students, primarily freshman, need to be more proactive in registering for classes a lot earlier. If we can develop strong communication between our campus and students in high school, that would help us and them,” Casarez said.

Lancer Catering employee Jeanette Ramos, who works as a cashier in the cafeteria, said some students were disappointed to learn Lancer doesn’t accept American Express.

Employed there since early August, she said she was surprised by the flood of customers but expects it to “slow down as soon as everyone figures out their schedule.”

Students whose schedule includes night classes should not feel daunted, said Alamo Colleges police officer Sam Solar. Campus police provide escorts to and from the cars of students, faculty and staff, even during the day, he said.

Solar advised students to “be aware of your surroundings.”

To arrange for a police escort, call 210-485-0099.

The first week of classes even included a few tears from the youngest students on campus.

Claudia Gonzalez, center coordinator at early childhood studies, said the first week at the campus child care center went well for the parents, but some first-time children had a hard time emotionally.

The center provides child care for students enrolled at this college.

“We do a parent orientation and a parent open house before the first week of school so they are comfortable,” Gonzalez said. “We had some students new to child care. We had a few tears. If it’s their first time, it’s hard.”

Contributors to this story are Yessenia Arroyo, Nicole Bautista, Valerie Champion, Rachel Cooper, Michelle Delgado, J. Del Valle, James Dusek, Christian Erevia, Alison Graef, Ryann Palacios, William A Peters, Maritza Ramirez and Zachary-Taylor Wright.

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