In the military a common phrase is to “get started on the good foot”. This refers to stepping out smartly with a 30-inch stride leading with the left foot. The college is starting fall semester on the good foot.
Inasmuch as this is the first week of class, I tend to walkabout more often each day; at least twice, and in the evening if possible. I just returned from a pre-lunch walk, needing to make some stops along the way to conduct business. It was at the 11:30 class break time frame so there was significant human movement and gathering on campus.
Today is an extremely pleasant one in the Antelope Valley; temperature is in the mid-80s, there is no wind just the slightest of breezes, and brilliant sunlight. The skies are clear and the air is fresh. Students are gathered in small groups in the library quad, others lounging on the grass beneath the trees, some napping, some chatting in small groups, and still others keeping their resolution to stay current in class and doing some studying. It looks like college.
The beginning to this Fall Semester has been particularly smooth, nervously so; I keep waiting for the first shoe to drop, much less the other one. Lines in student services are short, parking lot traffic has calmed, classes are full and yet we are accommodating more students than in the past five years, and we are looking to open some late start classes to provide access to even more students. As of this morning just over 15,000 students are enrolled in over 1600 class sections covering over 500 course offerings. We are just 1,000 students shy of the all-time enrollment record the college achieved in 2009.
I have talked with students, faculty and staff and have tried to assess why such a smooth start. Some thoughts came to mind: we came together as a full college community before classes started; our course schedule is more complete and offers varied times; we started registration for both summer and fall simultaneously in early May to better facilitate choices for continuing students and to meet their needs before leaving campus in the spring; we dedicated Friday mornings to packaging and processing financial aid applications; we conducted drops for non-payment weekly to keep class lists current; and we permanently extended service hours to better accommodate the work and family needs of our students’. It acts like college.
I love watching a college campus wake up and come to life each day. There is a renewed optimism and excitement with each student arrival and each classroom opening. Today was just an especially inspirational one.
Thank you all for making this all happen so wonderfully for our students and the community.