Adjusting to college life isn't always easy.
But Kansas University students who need a helping hand with that adjustment can find it at the Student Assistance Center in Strong Hall.
"We're the generalists," said Bob Turvey, associate director of the center. "Our job is to know a lot about everything."
As generalists, center staffers can be the starting point in a student's quest for help. The office deals with an average of 300 to 400 students a week, often serving as a referral agency for a range of subjects, including financial aid. On a more personal basis, center staffers will meet with a student on a confidential, one-to-one basis to help with problems.
THE CENTER also offers a variety of programs for students. Some of the center's workshops are for specific academic needs, such as "Math Learning Skills" and "Learning a Foreign Language." Other programs help with general learning situations, such as "Time Management," "Listening and Notetaking" and "Preparing for Exams."
The non-academic side of college life is covered with workshops including "Social Skills Development" and "Human Sexuality Education." The social aspect is important, Turvey said, because it applies to all students arriving at KU for the first time.
Students with special needs can be helped through programs such as "Services for Non-Traditional Students" and "Services for Students with Disabilities."
Some of the direct services for disabled students include academic aides (such as notetakers, readers and interpreters for the deaf) and equipment loans related to academic needs.
THE WORKSHOPS are offered throughout the school year, with many scheduled at the beginning of each semester, a time Turvey calls the most teachable moment.
"We provide a way of filling the gaps for the student who doesn't know where to begin, how to begin, how to approach a situation, or sometimes even know if they're in a situation," Turvey said. "I think we're the place that often gets called upon to assist that kind of student.
"We see a lot of students when they're having some kind of difficulty, either in their own lives or with the university. Or they need a place to figure out, `How does this bureaucracy work?'"
BY PROPERLY utilizing the assistance center, he said, students can even make the bureaucracy work for them. For example, if a family member of a student were to die during a final examination period, Turvey said the center could intercede on the student's behalf with his or her professors to accommodate the situation.
The center also is responsive to trends that sweep across the campus, Turvey said.
"Our office is responsible for what's called `contemporary needs,'" he said. "Part of our job is to do programming for things that seem to be multiple difficulties. Our programs have expanded, and sometimes our role is to begin a programming effort, but we might pass it off to some other agency that is better suited to work with the issue."
The university's alcohol education program that is part of health education at Watkins Health Center is an example of a program the center started and relinquished after it outgrew the auspices of its originators.
Along with classroom instructors, center staffers see themselves as teachers in their own right.
"When we talk with people, our approach is that we are educators," Turvey said. "Not exactly the same way that people in classrooms are educators, but our role is to help the student to learn about their development as an individual, and to teach them how to function how to work things out for themselves."
SO AS THE university grows in enrollment with more people having to adjust to the constantly changing environment, so grows the center.
The university, Turvey said, is incredibly complex.
"Any university is. And it's not like high school, it's not like other schools that they've been at, either," he said.
A student can get a specific answer to a question be it about financial aid or how to drop a class from several places on campus, Turvey said. The Student Assistance Center, he stressed, looks at the ramifications of a situation by seeing its impact on a student.
"We try to deal with the whole `fallout' issue as well," Turvey said.