Friday, August 22, 2008

Ah, the student woes...

I always know that the beginning of a semester is a busy time for administrators, and this year is no different. I plan my days with a lot of open spaces--in between all of the orientations, the welcome back events, and syllabus photocopying--in resigned recognition that they will quickly fill with what I will euphamistically call "student problems."

I call them that, but they quickly become faculty and staff problems.

Take, for example, the student who chastises a staff member who cannot help her as quickly as she would like, telling her, "Well, it's your job!" Or the new student who shows up for the first day of school, having ignored all emails and letters from the campus inviting him to attend orientation and registration events during the summer, and plaintively asks what to do now that all courses are closed. Add to this another student whose grades last semester were pretty far below the required minimum, who needs to get some supports for the new semester. Then there are the raft of seniors who "really, really need this class/section in order to graduate" but who find the classes/sections closed.

Each and all of these students require my time, sternness and/or kindness, and calm patience. I try to balance supportiveness with the need for a reality check for many of these students. It isn't always easy, but it gets better each year as I learn to expect the unexpected. My schedule has filled up every day this week--sometimes as late as 9pm. I eye the data I collected that needs to get analyzed and the articles and reports that need to be written and sigh audibly. But this, too, shall pass. The students will get enrolled, get socialized into how to deal appropriately with staff, and get into their classes, and eventually the semester will really get rolling. I am hopeful it will be soon.

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