Being There, From Afar
Classes are essential to Nicholls’ mission, but student services are a critical component to the Nicholls experience. They aid in education, research, mental health, physical health and much more.
“We needed to maintain some sense of normalcy,” says Adrienne Naquin-Bolton, director of the Counseling Center. “We needed to provide students some reassurance that the people they rely on will still be there for them, even if the mode of delivery is different.”
During COVID-19, services that could move online did.
The Academic Services Center contains many important resources to students and prospective students. Advisors and tutors are working with freshmen through email and Zoom. Transfer transcripts are still being reviewed. The Academic Testing Center is operating through a third party service. Dual enrollment students are meeting online.
“Some students are a lot more talkative about what they want in advising over the phone than they are in the offices,” said David Zerangue, director of the Academic Services Center.
A big challenge is providing quality tutoring. And it is one that is of particular importance to many students.
“You may never even need it, but I think knowing it is there provides a comfort,” Zerangue says. “And we all need that in this time as we try to stay healthy and safe.” The Counseling Center has remained in contact with clients virtually and even taken on new clients.
“Some students have existing mental health issues, and this is just exasperating it flipping their way of living upside down,” Naquin-Bolton says. “Some older issues might also resurface stronger. Many will also be impacted by the isolation, so it is important to be someone they can reach out to.”
Staying on top of your mental health is also crucial during quarantine as physical and mental health are interconnected.
“For example if your anxiety is keeping you up at night, you will not get a proper night’s sleep and that causes a lot of physical issues,” Bolton says. “If your mental health isn’t taken care of, you are putting your body in a compromised state.”
The Ellender Memorial Library offers a lot more than physical books. Services include research consultations to students and faculty, digital books and databases.
Library Director Elizabeth Batte and her staff are working to make what they can do online, better. For example, they created tutorials to help students use them.
“Our chat usage has very much increased,” Batte says. “It is funny that we are getting chats about all kinds of things, some are not even library centric. But we are happy to provide help and be an instant connection to students as they transition to online courses.”
Students also often share textbooks. To help with this, Batte says they have been working to provide digital copies of textbooks where available. Some are more difficult to provide, though, and she encourages professors to be mindful of how available your textbook is going forward.
All three directors believe this experience will make the university stronger, and could even add to the options that Nicholls provides students going forward. – Cain Madden