Student Services: Do We Make You Comfortable?

By Mike Lampe — It has been a little over a month since I started my internship, of  which I am enjoying every minute.

The experience has provided me the opportunity to interact with various students ranging from returning adult students to young adults straight out of high school. Working with the fun and energetic Orientation Leaders reminded me of back in the day where I was a “First Year Experience” Mentor at St. Norbert College. It is quite ironic that some of the new students who sit like they do not think pre-semester programming is worth it become part of the student population that become very active and jump on opportunities on campus.

I felt like I made major improvements on the online orientation session that I am proposing to the student services staff at UW-Waukesha. This week, I started on the video making of example scenarios students might want to know during their orientation session. The goal is to make sure a student who could not attend the physical orientation has a similar experience to understand the numerous opportunities the campus has to offer. It was also a great experience to learn about the different ways institutions were able to address the issue of giving crucial information to students who are yet to be fully engaged in the college experience for any reason. My hope is to create an online orientation that is both creative and sustainable to allow little follow up work.

My Thoughts: The Student Services Lobby Area
During my time in class and work, we always want to make sure we value the whole student in everything we do. Whether in student programming or our daily interactions via advising, we try to see how our actions match up with an institutional learning outcome or student development theory.

This photo was taken in the counseling center at Marquette University. Take note of the atmosphere, which aimed to make student clients as comfortable as possible before meeting with them.

However, I believe more can be done in the most basic, essential, and preliminary student experience. More could be done when each student walks through the door at Student Services. No matter what institution I worked at, each institution had a front desk, some uncomfortable seating, reading material, and a television with cable. The one institution that had a television was rarely used because the controller was in a drawer behind the front desk and it was also slightly awkward to watch television while there are professionals working on admissions work.

I’m wondering how we can best make prospective and current students as comfortable as possible while waiting to see their student services staff without feeling the nervousness of starting classes in the upcoming semester. Could there be a possibility where students are sitting on nice comfortable sofas in a comfortable environment while having some low volume music in the background?

Although people growing up the last generation might have expected to have a boring waiting room, young students of this generation long for environments such of that as Google, inc. where clothing expresses their personality and where fun does not separate from work. I am not saying to go to that extreme, however, we could do more to be interactive or provide some sort of activity to keep them engaged and comfortable.

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