OCEANSIDE — MiraCosta College staff is prepared with extra employees, information huts and welcoming smiles to greet new and returning students the first days of school Aug. 19 and Aug. 20.
All staff is on deck to ensure things run as smoothly as possible for students who are scrambling to get into classes, secure financial aid and learn their way around the three campuses.
MiraCosta College has a main campus in Oceanside, second campus in Cardiff and a learning center in downtown Oceanside.
“The biggest challenge is the sheer quantity of people,” Cheryl Broom, MiraCosta College communications director, said. “In fall new students don’t know where they’re going, where to register, sometimes they’re at the wrong campus.”
“The first week nobody takes off, everybody’s here.”
Help Huts are set up on the two main campuses during the first two days of classes and manned by MiraCosta College staff from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Staff volunteers at the Help Huts are briefed on frequently asked questions and armed with a campus information binder.
“Staff who volunteer work in different departments, it’s a great mix,” Broom said. “Both vice presidents volunteer, two deans volunteer, and a number of faculty. Some people just love being out there with students. It’s a good reminder why everyone’s here.”
MiraCosta College boasts a total enrollment of 16,979 students, about a third of those students are first year freshmen.
Unlike other colleges, MiraCosta College does not have a deadline for college applications. That policy leaves the door open longer for more students to enroll.
“We don’t want to close the door to potential students,” Dick Robertson, vice president of student services, said.
The policy also puts extra demands on admissions and records staff to field hundreds of phone calls the first week of school and turn over enrollment applications quickly.
All registration is done online. It takes a minimum of two days to process and confirm a student’s application, which then allows the student to sign up for classes.
Students who register for classes late in the game can choose to be added to a class waiting list. The number of students allowed on each waiting list is equal to the number of seats in the class. Students on the wait list are admitted on a first on the list, first to get in basis. In some cases an additional class will be added to accommodate students’ demand to attend the course.
“I teach Communications 101 and already have 10 people on the waiting list,” Broom said.
Student financial aid is another highly impacted department on campus.
“Students are trying to figure out how to pay for classes,” Broom said. “Last week the line was out the door and around the building. A lot of it has to do with people waiting until the last minute to decide to go to college, over summer, and scrambling to get in.”
Parking is another challenge.
“It’s a nightmare the first week of classes,” Broom said.
Students are encouraged to take public transportation, car pool, and get to campus early to allow enough time for parking.
Students can park in any student parking lot during the first week of classes without a parking pass. After that a parking pass is required.
Despite the extra challenges staff is geared up to greet students with smiles and information on the first days of classes.
“It’s an exciting new year and great time to be on campus,” Broom said. “Thursday we have a college hour with free food and music. It’s a great week to be here.”