By Bill Knief
“I feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.”
“I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.”
“Everybody else looks like they know what’s going on. Why don’t I?”
“I don’t belong here. This is not for me. This is too frustrating.”
These are some of the reactions that Patricia Gonzales, UNM-Taos Director of Student Affairs, has encountered when students haven’t taken the time to properly prepare themselves for the semester ahead. She knows what it’s like to wonder if you have made the right decision to go down the higher education path. She says it can be a setup for failure. But she also knows that there is a remedy, and it’s painless. No side effects.
“Start the enrollment process as early as you can,” she said. “We have been enrolling students for fall semester since April, and a few classes have already filled.
But it’s always like this. In Taos, fiesta weekend is like its own little holiday, and we’re not really in back-to-school mode until it’s over. I’ll bet we will be slammed in the weeks ahead.”
Time and time again it has been shown that the initial experience a student has in college, whether they are going back to school after a long absence or they’re fresh out of high school, is critical to their future success. That’s why the enrollment office at UNM-Taos is doing things a little differently this year.
Every Wednesday you can enroll or get answers to your questions after regular business hours in Rio Grande Hall (the old Taos Convention Center) from 4pm to 7pm on Civic Plaza Drive in the center of town. You can also register for classes by stepping up to the UNM-Taos table at Thursday Night Live on Taos Plaza. Or you can take part in Operation Registration on Saturday, August 2nd. We’ll be broadcasting live from there on KTAO, and you can drop by Rio Grande Hall from 11 am to 3 pm and talk to an advisor, see about financial aid and set up your schedule of classes. What a great way to start the academic year!
“Of course, we still offer the same registration options that we’ve always had,” Gonzales went on. “You can call 737-6215 to make an appointment to talk with an advisor, or come out to Pueblo Hall on the Klauer campus any weekday to get started with the enrollment process. But on Wednesdays you can just drop in without an appointment any time during the day on the Klauer campus, and in addition, we will have a full enrollment team in town from 4 to 7 in the evening. We call them ‘Walk In Wednesdays’.”
Gonzales noted, however, that new students should make appointments, and not just walk in, because they should expect to spend an solid hour with an advisor in order to take care of all the things that need to be in place to enroll for the first time: get a net ID and password set up, get an ID card, get oriented with the campus by touring the facilities, meet with an advisor and set up a schedule of classes.
“This year we have another option designed primarily for incoming freshmen,” Gonzales said. “We named it SOAR, for Student Orientation Advisement and Registration, and they will be held every Thursday.”
It’s a four-hour crash course in everything you ever wanted to know about registration but were afraid to ask, including a tour of the campus. SOAR sessions will be held on July 24th and 31st, and on August 7th and 14th. Gonzales feels that a SOAR could easily save new students time in the long run.
“The weekly SOAR sessions are designed to give supplemental support to new students,” Gonzales said. “We give them what they need to be successful starting right from the first couple of weeks of school, so new students should call 737-6215 to sign up. They walk in the door and by the time they leave that day they’re leaving with a schedule of classes in their hand. They know what classes they are taking at what times and in what buildings. It’s all about laying that foundation of confidence that success is built upon.”