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New center streamlines student services

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From the admissions counselor to the financial aid office to the registrar and then back again.

That’s what college students sometimes experience during the enrollment process — a maze of offices and departments to navigate when signing up for classes.

But school officials are certain that won’t be the experience of students at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus any more.

The college recently implemented an Express Enrollment Center — a one-stop shop for help with admissions, class registration, financial aid, student orientation, tuition payments and veterans’ affairs services.

The center is fully operational now, and staff members are ready to enroll students for the fall semester.

“The student can get through the whole process in one place, whereas before they were being bounced around a bit,” said Keith Hansen, vice chancellor of student affairs at the college. “It’s better customer service. It flows a little better.”

The $720,000 renovation — $500,000 for construction, which began in March and was finished by July 1, and $120,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment — transformed the entrance to Poling Hall.

Students and visitors are now greeted by an open entry filled with sunlight. Bright Ivy Tech apparel and school supplies in the bookstore are showcased in a new glass wall.

As students check in with staff at the lobby, they will be entered into an electronic queue. The three student support professionals, trained in all areas of admissions, will greet them and take them to the Express Enrollment Center, equipped with several computers with kiosks and surrounded by four offices.

Kelly Baker, former director of admissions for the campus, has been tapped to fill the new role of director of the Express Enrollment Center. She will oversee the development and implementation of the center and supervise the student services professionals.

“This seemed like a natural career fit,” Baker said. “As director of admissions, we had to talk about the whole process.”

Hansen said Baker’s excitement and enthusiasm about the one-stop model was a key point in bringing her on board.

Hansen said Ivy Tech joined a national trend to move toward the express enrollment model, and he and Baker are hopeful it could help with student retention.

If a student goes to the financial aid office or to an adviser and does not have all his or her questions answered in one visit, Hansen said, he or she could grow frustrated and drop out.

Jane Foster, a second year business administration student, said her enrollment experience was fairly easy — but she did have to travel through hallways to different office.

“It’s cool that they have that squared away in one office now,” she said. “It’s a better atmosphere.”

Although the student support professionals are not experts in every area, they are trained to bring the right person to the student for complex questions.

“We’re very excited to see how this will increase satisfaction and retention while decreasing frustration,” Baker said.

She emphasized that the goal will never be to churn students through the office as fast as possible. The reorganization and renovation is about streamlining the processes for students.

“People are excited,” Hansen said. “This is providing better customer service, guiding and assisting students from point A to Z.”

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