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Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991

EDUCATIONAL SERVICES WORKING TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR STUDENTS

August 17, 1991

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You've had a busy half-day of classes at Kansas University when suddenly you remember that, in less than 30 minutes, you're scheduled to enroll for next semester.

However, instead of heading for a long line of enrollees in Strong Hall, you schedule your classes in comfortable solitude at Watson Library, the Computer Center or even your own home.

That fantasy would become reality under a new enrollment system being studied by KU's Department of Educational Services. Wes Williams, dean of the department, said such innovations are part of the department's philosophy.

Williams said he and the six directors he oversees "really are looking at things that are going to make life and the process of school much easier for students. There's really not the attitude, `We've always done it this way, and it works.' There's an attitude that we can always improve upon what we do and provide better service."

WILLIAMS' department has six divisions: the Office of Admissions, the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Office of the University Registrar (which oversees the Enrollment Center), the University Placement Center, the Office of Systems Development and the Office of New Student Orientation.

"Each office is responsible for coming up with some thoughts and ideas they have as far as doing something bigger and better beyond the day-to-day office routine," Williams said.

Presently, Williams' staff is considering importing to this campus a sophisticated enrollment system used by the University of Iowa.

"Any place on their campus where they have terminal access to the mainframe computer, they've set up access to their enrollment system," Williams said. "Students still have certain times that they can enroll, but instead of a student having to come to the enrollment center and sit down with an operator, students can actually sit down and query the system themselves and enroll in classes."

Students with personal computers also could enroll from home via modems.

WHILE THE new enrollment system is still in the planning stages, Williams' department already has implemented other technological changes with the guidance of its Office of Systems Development.

For example, the financial aid office recently moved to an automated telephone answering system, in which pre-recorded messages answer commonly asked questions.

"A lot of people think that that's impersonal," Williams said. "I think it's a lot more impersonal for the phone to ring 35 to 40 times before somebody's able to answer it."

Williams said about three-fifths of the calls can be handled with pre-recorded messages and the automated system ``. . . gives our operators time to really concentrate and specialize with that other two-fifths of people who have individual questions."

Also, just this year, the registrar's office began using an automatic transcript system. Instead of photocopying hard copies of transcripts when students request them, the transcripts can be called up on a computer screen and then printed on a laser printer.

WITH THE new system, Williams said, transcripts are not lost or misfiled, and students can get their transcripts a lot faster.

In the area of academics, the department has expanded on the idea of summer orientation for incoming freshmen and created a semester-long seminar for those students. One seminar course was piloted in the spring, and two will be offered this fall.

"We'd like to have new students come on board and have the opportunity to be as successful as possible, and one way of doing that is having some type of overview course," Williams said.

The seminar is geared toward academics. Students will learn how to effectively use library resources, and several school deans will talk to the students about their programs. The students also will be made aware of the counseling services available on campus.

While that program will help incoming students, an Employer Advisory Committee established by the University Placement Center this spring will help those students considering what they might do after college. Serving on the advisory committee are several businessmen.

"Since employers are the ones who create the job possibilities for our graduates, we thought it'd be good to get them involved in the process a little bit," said Terry Glenn, university placement director. "What we want to do is get their perspective on what students should be doing and how we can help them better."

Williams said his staff also is looking at a way to put student resumes on a computer network and thus make them accessible to employers nationwide.

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