Category Archives: Administrative Services

I am a Teacher!

When I tell people I work at a community college, they usually ask if I teach and I always say no I work in the business office. Earlier this week I realized that I do teach, but my students are not enrolled in courses taught at GCC, my students are the faculty and staff at GCC. We know in the Business Office that it is not easy navigating the fiscal processes. On the Fiscal page of our website it says, “Our goal is to provide employees with the tools and guidance necessary to secure the goods and services essential to providing a quality learning experience to our diverse student population.” We are here to teach and guide and we do that so we can all succeed in our jobs and not pull our hair out while doing it.

As a fellow employee stated to me earlier this week, “Every day is a learning experience.” I am glad I make a small contribution to the overall learning going on at GCC.


What if your ability to keep your job was contingent on the success of your client?

Last week, during our weekly department meeting, I proposed this to my staff: What if your ability to keep your job was contingent on the success of your client? What if you didn’t get paid until your clients were happy and successful? What if every employee was responsible for their own salary?

Do you know how many students you would need to guarantee are successful each year? Just for illustration purposes, multiply your salary by 37% (that’s about how much of your paycheck comes from tuition). Now divide that number by $71 (that’s how much GCC gets from the District per credit hour); now take that number and divide it by 24 (that’s 12 credit hours per semester). That equals the approximate number of full time students you need to make sure are successful this year to equal your paycheck.

The point of that exercise is to ask this: If your job depended on those students staying at GCC, paying tuition and re-enrolling for another year, would you be more proactive in their personal academic success? Would you march them over to the Enrollment Center and personally see to it that they are enrolled and paid their tuition? Would you shepherd them through the process of financial aid? Would you ask how their grades are, escort them to tutoring, make sure they studied hard? Would you ask how else you can help them be successful?

While we have a duty to educate and raise up our students to be independent, contributing members of society, they are still, after all, our client. Meaning, they can take their tuition dollars elsewhere. They are paying for a service (an education) just like any number of us do at other establishments. And the first rule of customer service is to picture them with dollar signs on their forehead.

Marketing people are familiar with the old adage: If someone has a good experience, they might tell three people. If someone has a bad experience they will tell 11. Now, this was before social media! So go ahead and add a couple zeros behind those numbers to account for a mass online audience. This effects a student’s motivation to enroll a great deal.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. In fact, more than 37% of our students are here because of a friend or family member! Another 10% are here because of a relationship they formed with a recruiter. Another batch are here because our online community through social media. A successful, cared for, student is a happy student who is willing to tell others about GCC.

In all reality, that’s your paycheck walking around out there on campus. How many students are you responsible for? Would you serve a student as if your job depended on it?


Student Success (from a Fiscal Perspective)

How many times a day do you see, hear, or think about the phrase “student success”? It is our primary goal, our focus, and the driving force behind everything we do. What about when your job duties (including the “other duties as assigned”) do not bring you in direct contact with students? Can you still contribute to student success? The answer is yes.

This is something I think about often because we are frequently asked to report on how we promote student success and I have a job that does not bring me in direct contact with students. However, after reading some of my fellow bloggers’ posts, I found that I am not alone in my assertion that yes I can contribute to student success.

I promote student success by helping faculty members navigate the myriad of forms, processes, and systems we have in the fiscal world. When faculty members are successful at the non-teaching part of their jobs, they are likely to translate that feeling into a happier and more successful learning environment. In “Sincere Thanks from an Adjunct” Chris Krause says, “The positive feelings and willingness to help I have experienced outside the classroom spills over into my classes as well. Students are the direct beneficiaries of this. I can be more available and am more willing to advocate for them when needed, because I am happy and comfortable in the environment” (Write 6X6 Blog).

I promote student success by participating in the One2One mentoring program. This program allows me to share with students strategies I have used to overcome obstacles in obtaining a college degree or finding my way around campus or dealing with the pressures of family, job and college all at the same time. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn what that student needs to be successful and offer guidance and reassurance that their goals are attainable.  Ladonna Lewis, in “Coming Out of the Closet,” says “We all have closets that we can come out of with our students when appropriate” and “Maybe we can just listen to them sometimes, and try to connect them with resources. Sometimes for students, just seeing that someone like them can be a college professor, or administrator, or professional, can help them see themselves achieving their goals” (Write 6X6 Blog).

I promote student success by identifying myself as an employee of GCC. When I walk through the Enrollment Center or across campus students routinely stop me and ask directions, how to work the computers, or where to get help with… you name it.  Every day I come to work there is an opportunity for me to make a difference, taking the time to stop and answer their questions (or find someone who can) is a little thing that can make a big impact. In “Feeling Disgruntled?” Ingrid Austin says, “Just remember that we’re here to make a difference and that everything we do should be done with pride, joy, and self-satisfaction because what we do matters.  It matters to the students who are out there making an effort to better themselves” (Write 6X6 Blog).

Finally, I hope to promote student success in the future by accepting the suggestion of President Kovala. In “Random Acts of Relief” she says, “… to pay it forward with these and any other great ideas to give our students the extra nudge to the finish line. Stopping a student on the sidewalk and simply asking how they are doing, or walking through computer commons or the Library and checking in with students as they are busily working on the computer. Better yet, when a student is in line at Grounds for Thought, offer to pay for their coffee. These small gestures go a long way to assure students know we care about them and their success” (Write 6X6 Blog).


Sincere Thanks from an Adjunct

I have heard and read countless complaints about being an Adjunct Faculty member. I will admit, there are difficult aspects of being an adjunct – and let’s face it, we all know what those are.

Having served as an adjunct faculty member in a few different places, I must say that being at GCC is the best.

Here are some reasons why:

There are pleasant places to work while on campus. The work places I have used are open and set up to encourage collaboration and discussion among others. It helps me feel a sense of belonging.

The staff is very helpful, and will do whatever they can to help me accomplish what I want or need to do. This culture of going above the call of duty is the rule, not the exception here. It doesn’t matter to people whether I am adjunct or not – they just help where they can. I love how the staff has been so helpful in navigating the bureaucratic hoops one must jump through sometimes.

More seasoned members of the Residential faculty are generally available to advise and educate when asked. Emails are answered and phone calls are returned without delay – I’m often amazed at how quickly that happens. Questions one might expect to have a 1-2 day turnaround are often be addressed on the same day.

I feel like I’m an important contributor to the community here too. My advice is sought, my ideas are heard, and my opinions matter. My intellect is stimulated – and I learn new things at work all the time. This is a far cry from the second-class-citizen feeling that often accompanies being an adjunct.

The positive feelings and willingness to help I have experienced outside the classroom spills over into my classes as well. Students are the direct beneficiaries of this. I can be more available and am more willing to advocate for them when needed, because I am happy and comfortable in the environment.

Thank you GCC!


How can we make college work for everyone? (complete w/references)

A challenge facing higher education professionals today is the issue of student success; why do some students persist in college and flourish, while others leave?  Researchers have hypothesized, measured, and made recommendations on this topic using seminal theories such as Astin’s (1984, 1999) theory of student involvement and Tinto’s (1997) updated longitudinal model on student departure and integration. Additionally, Rendón’s (1994, 2002) theory of validation has been found to be effective with non-traditional college student populations while the Social Identity Theory (Brown, 2000) has been used to illustrate the connection between group membership, self-esteem, external behaviors and student success. Despite, or perhaps because of, the plethora of theories, the field remains muddled as investigators are not using the same variables nor employing similar methodologies to define student success, a construct critical to accomplishing the mission of higher education.

As these theories are explored, their similarities become apparent; leading one to believe that they are not distinct and separate, but rather overlapping and evolving from each other. Rather than viewing student development theories as separate entities when attempting to understand the elements contributing to student success, the theories should be viewed as overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. Each theory contains elements of previous theories, but also builds upon the other to create a more accurate and relevant model for those it seeks to serve.

By understanding the integration and synthesis of applicable theoretical frameworks and conceptual principles related to student success, practitioners and researchers alike can move forward with designing and assessing programs intended to foster success in unique student populations, such as ours. Acknowledging the challenges facing our young people as they transition to college and beyond requires student affairs staff, faculty and counselors to utilize a theoretical framework that includes the student’s past, present and future while understanding the multiple roles these individuals are expected to juggle. Balancing these expectations, roles and outcomes is critical to the success of our student population.

References (I wasn’t kidding!)

  • Astin, A.W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308.
  • Astin, A.W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-529.
  • Brown, R. (2000). Social identity theory: Past achievements, current problems and future challenges. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30, 745.778.  doi:10.1002/1099- 0992 (200011/12)
  • Rendón, L.I. (1994). Validating culturally diverse students: Towards a new model of learning and student development. Innovative Higher Education, 19(1), 33-50.
  • Rendón, L.I. (2002). Community College Puente: A validating model of education. Educational Policy, (16), 642-667. doi:10.1177/0895904802016004010
  • Tinto, V. (1997). Classrooms as communities: Exploring the educational character of student persistence. Journal of Higher Education, 686, 599-623.

The Littlest Thing Can Change the Mind of a Student

I began my career here at Glendale Community College as a student, then six months later I applied and began to work as a student worker for the Business Department. I then applied for a part time job as a clerk typist with the Business Department, and then applied and landed a full time job for the Chemistry Department. After working there for three year I decided, and was encouraged to apply for the Executive Secretary 1 position for the Dean’s office. I have been on all levels of assisting students, and even being one. I have, and will go above and beyond for all students.

I know how at time it is really hard to figure out what to do as a student. I was one of them that got the run around for the first few months. Maybe some forget that we know how to do most everything and even where to look for what we want and at time we even have the in on who to speak to. However, has anyone taken a moment to think if the student knows where to go or who to ask? At times our students have been given the run around. I personally have witnessed a few occasions and I feel sorry for them when this happens. I know that we are all busy. Sometimes when I take that extra step to help the student, it does not only help that student it also helps the staff member that might be swamped. It is that trickle-down effect.

It only takes a few minutes to pull up the students schedule instead of sending him to the Enrollment Center, especially if it is the beginning of semester. This allows the staff member to assist someone else and the student is able to get to class in time. I think if we all step back and take a moment to reflect if we would want to be treated like that then most of us would probably select a different avenue.

For student success on our campus one of the avenues we need to address is how we assist our students. The littlest thing can change the mind of a student. We need to engage with our students and listen to them.


I am Too Dumb for Graduate School

I will never forget my first graduate school class…

Finally, I am in graduate school and going to earn a Master’s Degree. I feel great, I am excited, and I just completed my first post on the discussion board. We are reading a challenging book, “The Archeology of Knowledge”, by Michel Foucault; it is difficult for me to grasp the meaning of the assigned chapter but I work hard and come up with something I feel is insightful and thought provoking. My assignment completed for the day, I head off to bed feeling good about my achievement. The next day, I am anxious as I log on to Blackboard to read my fellow student’s responses and retrieve my instructor’s feedback. In my mind, the rest of my graduate school career hinges on this first assignment – if I can do this, I can accomplish anything! I click on the link to my grades and my world comes crashing down – 4 out of 10 points.

Walking from the room where I do my schoolwork, I pass through the living room and without even a glance at my boyfriend I say, “I am too dumb for graduate school” and continue on to the bedroom to wallow in self-pity and doubt.

I let myself have one night of “giving up” but then I got determined! I am not dumb. I am going to show that professor and that stupid Michel Foucault that I can figure this out (even though I am convinced some of the sentences are just random words strung together with a period at the end). I keep the Spark Notes and my dictionary handy while I read the chapter at least two times and read the professor’s notes before and after reading the chapter. I think the highest I ever scored on discussion points was an 8 but I got an A in the class and proved to everyone (mostly myself) that I am not too dumb for graduate school.

So what’s the take away (other than, I may have overreacted and I’m a little hard on myself)? I can think of several clichés that would be appropriate but cliché or not, from great challenges rise great triumphs.

I still have that book proudly displayed in my home office because I read it and I did an “A” job pretending I understood it!