Dallas College advisers adjust hours to help students

Aaron Romero, Sports Editor

As Dallas College continues primarily online, advisers face the challenge of working digitally, while adding more hours to help students with questions and difficulties.

Roanna De los Santos, Dallas College financial aid adviser, said in an email to The Courier advisers typically work 40 hours a week. “The only exception to this is during peak registration where we may have to work extended hours,” she said.

Currently, academic advising virtual drop-in rooms are available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Advisers work different shifts to provide coverage for those 11 hours, senior academic adviser John Johnson said in an email to The Courier. 

Students can access advising services through email at [email protected], via call center at 972-669-6400 or through the Navigate app

The latter is a new resource offered by Dallas College with a tool for students to manage classes and receive help from advisers all the way through graduation.

Johnson said a significant challenge for advising is communicating and engaging with students online. He said the Dallas College Leadership Team developed a campaign to communicate with students effectively. The strategy includes email or text messages when a student opts in. 

“During advising sessions, I clarify each student request, inquire if they are having difficulty with accessing the internet and using eConnect, then assist students accordingly,” Johnson said.

He also said the leadership team is monitoring the COVID-19 updates to determine whether there is a chance to return to limited on-campus academic advising appointments starting Feb. 15, but this date is tentative and subject to change. 

The appointment calendar for any on-campus services can be found online at the COVID-19 Information and Resources page.

De los Santos said it is hard to give all the information needed in just one email, so it is not uncommon for advisers to communicate more than once with a student. “Dallas College employees strive to answer emails in a timely manner,” she said.

In his inaugural speech for the 2021 Spring semester, Chancellor Joe May said student services staff, self-proclaimed holiday helpers, worked during the Winter break to help students. He said their task was to ensure no email or voice message went unanswered. 

De los Santos said Dallas College wanted to offer extra help for students to enroll in the Spring semester. 

“IT staff dedicated hours in the winter break to aid students with technology issues,” May said. “Our employees handled 1,622 calls over the holiday break, processed 219 admissions applications, 418 transcripts and 247 financial aid awards.” He said 35 students received help from 24-hour counseling support for mental health concerns and other matters.

To help students without access to the necessary equipment, Johnson said Dallas College released the Laptop/Hotspot Loan Program. According to the Dallas College website it is meant to loan hotspot-enabled tablets, laptops and hotspots on a first-come, first-serve basis.

De los Santos said she encourages students to contact advisers via the established contact set up during this semester. 

Johnson said he encourages students to continue checking the official Dallas College updates on how to access advising academic support.