One Concord University student's tale of woes: Departments not sharing information (Opinions)

One would think that with this school being a university that it’d be a little more sophisticated in the ways of working together both locally with each other and with national networks and databases. However, that is largely not the case.

Like many students here at Concord I receive financial aid. Each semester I dig myself a deeper hole into debt all in the name of education. And each semester I, like many, have to deal with the Financial Aid Department. Sometimes this is an easy and pleasant process, but more often than not it is a huge burden on any student wanting to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time.

Each semester whether you want to or not a student is going to have to deal with the Financial Aid Department. And most often when a student goes in they’re going to have to wait at least five or ten minutes. The waiting even happens when there is no one else waiting! It’s nearly as bad as sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. Once the blue moon rises, you’ll be able to maybe get something done.

Often when one goes in you’re met with a seemingly cheery secretary that one can smell their loathing of you from a mile away no matter what your problem may or may not be.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to work with Lisa Spencer in the Financial Aid Department because she seems to be the most competent and easy to work with staff member in the department.

A huge show of incompetence is when offices lose your paperwork. Paperwork done months ago and thought to be taken care of. True, sometimes the paperwork isn’t actually done but most often it is. Losing people’s paperwork should never be a problem on the scale that it is here at Concord. The Financial Aid department is notorious for doing this. Remember last year when many FAFSAs had been lost? Well not all of those lost FAFSAs were due to a computer problem at the national Department of Education. A few people this writer knows had to completely redo their FAFSA as well as all of the bits of paperwork that goes along with receiving financial aid. Sometimes they had to do the paperwork twice because they were told it wasn’t done right. I’m sure many of those reading this have had their own problems with this department in one shape or another.

However, when you leave the office, you’re often met with more paperwork than you started with, sometimes new or sometimes old, and have more running around to an office in the Administration building to either the Registrar’s office or the Business office. These offices often have many problems keeping up with each other and for no good reasons.

What’s keeping the Financial Aid Department and other departments from sharing information and making a student’s beginning of the semester just a little less of a hassle? A lack of systems integration and cooperation from the people in charge of technology for the various departments are the problems. This is an on-going problem that shows just how purely lazy some administrators are.

My above statement isn’t just baseless conjecture. Last semester I had to send in a paper form for an in-school deferment of my loans. The reason for this is Concord’s Registrar’s office, or any other office or department, isn’t hooked up to the National Student Loan Clearing House. At pretty much any other university this would never have to happen but due to laziness and incompetence, it is still a large problem not just for currently enrolled students but alumni as well. How do I know this you may wonder? Well, from previous experience of not having to do this at another school and from talking to the registrar herself, Carolyn Cox.

She had told me that in late 2005 they were supposed to get a link setup with the National Student Loan Clearing House and was told it’d only take a few days to setup. However, they (being the computer center or the CAT) never set it up and have yet to do so as they’ve been in “testing stages” since last spring.
If that isn’t a huge show of laziness and incompetence, I don’t know what is. That link is an essential setup for any school. But due to its lacking presence, some students are forced to send in a deferment request so that they don’t have to pay off loans while in school. Sure, it’s a minor inconvenience but in the mean time you’re being called by loan companies and/or collection agencies. This isn’t something students should have to deal with at least until they’ve been out of school for more than 6 months.

Also, this isn’t just an administration problem of information sharing. It goes also from the administration to the faculty and even to the students themselves. Many new students have almost no idea what to do when they get here. Do not know the trials and tribulations they have to go through. There isn’t a standard checklist of things to do or even a glimmer of advice for new students unless they’ve befriended some older students who’ve been through it all. But what are administrators, faculty members and students going to do about it to get this fixed? It has been shown that trying to work together just isn’t possible for some odd reason. We need to come together as a whole (parents, students, faculty, and administrators alike) and demand that these problems be fixed. Not just for the present but also for the future success of Concord!
Edit: I was told by Steven Williams of the CAT that it is actually the Computer Center behind the National Student Loan Clearing House fiasco.

Popular posts from this blog

Faculty Senate votes ‘no confidence’ in three vice presidents (News)

Let's talk about OUYA

How I got into the world of IT and where I'm going