Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of Class

I’m reminded every semester how the first day of class is one of those points in the calendar that makes working at a community college so special. So much goes into preparing the College for a new academic year, the pace and level of effort is remarkable. When the first day of class finally arrives, helping students find their ways and resolving unanticipated issues requires an “all-hands-on-deck” approach at both of our campuses. This day is filled with countless interactions for everyone.

While student admissions, enrollment, and advising appointments build steadily throughout the summer, the few weeks before the semester are packed with activities like new student orientation; deep cleaning of facilities; faculty meetings; preparation of countless events; and staffing classes for sections opened in response to waitlist demand. When that first day arrives, we know we're ready - come what may.

MVCC faculty and staff take part in a workshop titled "Empowering Students to Get on Course" with Robin Middleton at the August Institute Professional Development event before the start of the Fall semester.

The bustle associated with students finding the right classrooms fills the halls of most every building. Sometimes you can just see the look in a student’s eyes that says, "I could use some help." We're striving for that standard where, no matter what role we may play at the College, we're all here to help students - whether it's answering a question or helping a new member of our “family” find their way, we're here to help.

MVCC students receive help at one of the Information Booths set up around campus.

I try to meet as many new students as I can on the first day and work hard to make new connections. I'm always surprised throughout the year how many of these same students’paths cross mine - and we can always point back to that first day of class. With 7,500 students and my hectic schedule, I'd think the odds of running into someone again wouldn't be very good, but each year the same pattern emerges.

Students gather outside of the Alumni College Center on the first day of classes.

Settling in to a new academic year always brings a certain energy, tempered with a touch of positive anxiety for everyone, that captures everything the college experience should be - calling on the courage to try something new; throwing ourselves into the unknown; trusting others to help us find our way; using our instincts to make the right decisions; and being okay with not knowing everything, but trusting that most things will work out when all is said and done. It's what makes being a college student such a special experience and makes working at a college - particularly a community college - such a rewarding occupation.

It’s the first day of a new academic year at Mohawk Valley Community College. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s do something great together!

If you have any comments on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.