On Monday, as in many schools and colleges thought the uk, a new academic year begins. For us at Ashbourne this means registration days, induction meetings and ‘getting-to-know-you’ for students followed by a full-day ‘welcome back’ meeting for the staff.
As a senior manager this is arguably the most important week of the college year. For the students coming to us for the first time it is essential that the college presents itself as the modern, inclusive, successful institution we believe ourselves to be. The focus is three fold:
1. Efficiency – we have a lot of students to process in a short space of time. We need to reduce ‘hanging around time’ to a minimum, ensure there is plenty for the students to be doing and that we take their details and diseminate materials and information swiftly.
2. Professionalism – a slick, professional first impression is crucial. there should be no hint that anything is going wrong (even if it is) and all staff should be well drilled and know exactly what is required of them that day.
3. Welcoming and friendliness – sixth firm colleges are curious places. Students join in our case from all over London and the world. Despite some bravado and some brave faces, most of them are nervous and frightened. “Will this be the same as my old school?” “I don’t know anybody here!” “Everyone seems to know someone except me!” “Everyone seems so clever/smart/good looking/popular (or whatever…)” the college staff have a very important job to do to settle nerves and make everyone feel welcome.
If any if these don’t happen or are not delivered at 100% it is very easy to “lose a life” with the students. It is so important for them to leave with the impression that they have made a good choice, that they will be successful and welcome and that they are looking forward to getting started.
Good luck to anyone starting a new school or college next week and good luck to the staff involved in making their first few days run smoothly.