When new students used to arrive on Bakersfield College's campus in the pre-COVID-19 era, staff would have to direct students from building to building to get help figuring out how to enroll, which classes to take and then to get help paying for it all.
Starting Monday, Bakersfield College will open the doors to its first-ever Student Services Center, billed as a one-stop shop for getting all of that done — and then some. It's not just for new students, but also returning students who need help.
The opening marks a big moment for the college in a few different ways. First, it marks the shift toward consolidating everything a student needs into one location, a plan that has been in the works for some time.
The Admissions and Record Office, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships, the Welcome Center and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services will all be under one roof. This means students can get a transcript, ask about scholarship opportunities, check in on CalWORKS requirements and ask a counselor for scheduling advice in one location.
One day when the Measure J-funded renovation of the current Administration Building is complete, all of these services will be permanently located in what will soon become known as the Welcome Center. But for right now, the Student Services Center is located in the Center for Student Success. It's right in the heart of campus and it's also conveniently located close to guest parking through the main entrance off Haley Street.
This opening also marks the moment of a bigger push toward in-person options on campus. BC's campus has been open for in-person learning over the summer session. But Ashlea Ward, director of outreach at the college, expects there to be even more students on campus for the fall session.
Ward hopes that opening the Student Services Center helps bring in students who prefer face-to-face interaction. Her colleagues, who are suffering from Zoom fatigue, are looking forward to that human connection, too.
"We as a college, and especially in Student Affairs, are eager to get back to helping people in person," said Ward.
BC is hoping for more students taking more classes period. During the pandemic, there was a 3.3 percent decrease in students and a 5.8 percent decrease in course enrollment from fall 2020 compared to the previous fall, according to a news release from the college.
Last fall, classes were held completely virtually. This upcoming fall session, some classes will be held in-person and others will be available virtually.
Students services will also continue to be available virtually. During the pandemic, BC created a virtual version of the Student Services Center on Zoom called the Student Information Desk. Students check into a virtual lobby where can get access to all of these departments at one time. Those virtual services will still be available, Ward said.
The college will also continue to do enrollment events during which students can get all of their enrollment matters, from admissions to financial aid to registration, taken care of at one time. She said these are especially helpful for students who work during the day and can't make it to the physical or virtual offices during the day. The next event is planned for noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 11.
The Student Services Center will have a few people from each of the four departments represented available to help students, so there will be about 12 to 16 staff to assist.
The center will continue to maintain COVID protocols, such as masking and limiting how many people can be inside at one time. But Ward said there is plenty of indoor waiting space.
The center is located on the the second floor of the Center for Student Success building. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Starting Monday, students who want to make an appointment can visit www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student.