Monday, August 31, 2009


Fans of roller coasters know that feeling when you're getting to the very top of a steep hill, and the chain is going ever so slowly. You know you're about to go over the top and then down at breakneck speed. There's that very specific mix of excitement, fear, and the knowledge that whether you can handle it or not, there's no turning back now.

That's what this week is like.

The students are registering (where they can find spaces) and buying books. The faculty are starting to stream in. Enrollment projections are getting very specific. Last-minute staffing emergencies are cropping up. Parking is getting tighter. Staff vacations are over. And the gauntlet of kickoff meetings, with all their drama and expectations, looms large.

No matter how many years I do this, that click-click-click feeling still gets me.

It's gonna be a wild year. Enrollments are the highest they've ever been, and our funding is down by a double-digit percentage. Some of our counterpart cc's have had layoffs, and we can't rule them out. All the usual locale-specific political variables are busy varying, as they tend to do.

There's no shortage of stress.

But there's always something about the new start in September. The students are eager, the faculty rested, the weather still nice, and the budgets still solvent. Nobody is behind yet, nothing has fallen apart yet, and the delicious possibility of greatness hangs in the air. This year some students will have their breakthrough moments. Some will have life-changing relationships. Some will finally figure out why they're here. Some classes will just click, the way great ones do.

Good stuff is coming. As with the roller coaster, it'll be a hell of a Fall.