GW services feel population pinch

Several University services have adapted to serve more students than ever this year, but students say they are still experiencing long lines.

In anticipation of 450 more freshmen than last year, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences received extra funding – more than $1 million – to hire an additional full-time professional adviser, CCAS Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Kim Moreland said.

“Also, the number of faculty advisers at (Colonial Inauguration), the number of freshmen advising workshops, peer advisors and staff advisers have increased,” she said.

Appointments and walk-in hours are available to CCAS students at the Oxborough Student Services Center in Phillips Hall.

“From the front desk perspective, things are going pretty smoothly . (long lines) are only between classes,” CCAS office manager Marc Wittlif said.

Junior Sue Pfohl said despite changes students should expect long lines at certain times.

“I can only come in to the Columbian College student services between classes. But everyone else has the same idea, so the lines are usually long whenever I go in,” junior Sue Pfohl said after waiting in the office for about 20 minutes at 12:15 p.m. Thursday. “There are 10 people here, and now I’ve waited too long and I have to go to class.”

Pfohl said Friday mornings are the best times to avoid lines for advising because most students are sleeping.

The University Cashier’s Office on the third floor of Rice Hall has had a smooth registration, office manager Linda Brown said.

“With the size of our office, we might have 50 people on average with a wait time of about 2-3 minutes,” she said.

The office has extended hours Tuesdays and Thursdays at the beginning of each semester to accommodate student schedules, but account officials took other initiatives to anticipate the influx of new students.

“We haven’t really had a big line (because) we have a lock-box system where you mail your payments in,” Brown said. “But GW did send out letters (this summer) saying `you are about to be sent your fall bill’ along with answers to a few questions and some direct phone numbers.”

In past semesters, the University mailed all tuition bills at the same time and only included the phone number for Student Accounts, Director of Media Relations Gretchen King said. This year, GW sent tuition bills in two mailings with a list of phone numbers to direct student inquiries to the right place.

Director of Student Account Services John Hicks said the two sets of bills were mailed a day apart and were due the same day. Although the staggered mailing reduced the number of phone calls to the office, he said the University has no plans to use this method in the future.

Financial Aid has also changed some of its policies to contend with extra students.

The office changed its notices to students about promissory notes, documents students sign to accept Perkins loans and loan interviews because past notices did not seem to be effective, Student Financial Assistance Director Daniel Small said. He said the notices, more clearly worded than before, now highlight important information and emphasize deadlines.

Small said 80 percent of financial aid applicants responded to the notices in the first week of school this year, a jump of about 30 percent from most years.

“We have seen a growth in the number of financial aid applications,” Small said. “It is most likely running ahead by an overall 4 percent at this time. (Longer lines) usually are between classes with 10 to 15 people waiting up to four minutes at most.”

Financial aid officials told freshman Jake Marsico the wait would be 20 to 30 minutes when he stopped in last week.

“I went to financial services to sign something, but when I realized how long the wait was I decided to forget it and leave,” Marsico said.

Small said his office experiences the shortest lines on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday most weeks.

In the registrar’s office, graduate student Monica O’Neal said she felt the effects of a population growth.

“It’s frustrating. They had a high volume of things and couldn’t locate my form,” she said. “I came in myself because it’s been a month (since I submitted it).”

The registrar’s office was unavailable for comment through the close of business Friday.

ResNet added new ethernet connections in 2109 F St., 2028 G St. (the former Sigma Nu fraternity house), City Hall and the new triples in the Hall on Virginia Avenue this year.

“Last year we connected over 600 students,” ResNet Director Alexandra Kim said. “We have added approximately 350 connections so far, and after City Hall comes online, we’ll have an additional 600.”

Students said ResNet service has been quick.

“The third jacks in HOVA have had some trouble, but the service from ResNet has been pretty quick in fixing the problem,” freshman Matthew Rome said.

Kim said ResNet targets getting students online quickly at the beginning of each year.

“For the first part of the academic year, ResNet schedules in-room technician appointments until 10 p.m. at night in order to accommodate student schedules,” Kim said.

ResNet added an instructional CD, allowed for temporary registration connections to GW sites in residence halls, moved the connection fair to a single space in the Hippodrome and included laptop help tables and temporary student staff during move-in, Kim said.

“(This system) was very convenient,” Rome said. “My online connection was up and running a few hours later.”

Director of Media Relations Gretchen King said directing student questions was a key to the University’s plan to handle more students.

“There is a huge demand at the registrar’s office, cashier’s office and
financial aid. We met with them in June and asked what are the kinds of things that will make life easier,” King said.

Even with the changes, students said they are not completely satisfied with waiting for services.

“The only downfall of GW are the waits for some of these services,” Marsico said.

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