New information center opens at HCC

August 16, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Hagerstown Community College has opened an information center to answer students' questions and solve enrollment problems.

Housed in a renovated storage area inside the administration building, the new information center can be reached by calling 301-766-4HCC. It opened June 15 and staff members are taking calls weekdays and Saturday mornings.

"It's brand new and it's kind of an experiment," said HCC spokeswoman Patti Churchey. "It's working really well."

Other Maryland community colleges created similar hotlines that Churchey said may help boost enrollment. With so many automated phone services available, students appreciate being able to reach a person who can help them, she said.

"They talk to a human being right from the beginning," Churchey said. "It's not a new idea. It's kind of reverting back."


HCC's average student is 28 to 30 years old, so returning to school can be intimidating, Churchey said. Staff at the information center provide what amounts to counseling over the telephone.

They also help with the sometimes complicated matters of tuition, financial aid, payment plans, instructors, registration schedules, transcripts and child care. Students can get help with credit and noncredit classes.

The center has a staff of several former students and two to three work there at any one time. Although they mostly answer calls, they also call students to remind them it's time to enroll, Churchey said.

They may also let students know if a professor is sick or a class has been rescheduled. Already this summer, a child called the center when she locked herself out of the house and staff called the mother out of class, Churchey said.

In another call, a woman on welfare with four children asked how she could attend college. The info center gave her advice.

"It's been received very well from the public," Churchey said. "This is totally a customer service. We just want to take the confusion out of attending college."

The information center is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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