A newcomer experience

This morning I took my kids (and Hannah, who is like a second daughter to me) to the high school to get registered for classes, which start next week.

Fascinating experience. Here’s how it went:

  1. Got into line.
  2. Stood there a while and looked across the way and saw a big “Start Here” sign placed on a chair in the middle of the walkway… far from the parking lot where we had walked from.
  3. Daniel stayed in line and I went over and they said we were supposed to go around the building to start.
  4. Pulled Daniel out of line and went to the back of the building.
  5. The lady stamped Daniel’s hand and we went inside.
  6. There were different stations and we didn’t know where to go. We stood there looking lost until a lady said we could go anywhere.
  7. Dropped off the paperwork and walked out the door.
  8. Went back to the very big line, which was for photos.
  9. Waited a very long time. Finally got inside and was about to get a picture taken when we heard the photographer in front of us tell the girl she needed a white card. Oops.
  10. Went back outside into another unmarked line to get a white card, losing our place in line.
  11. Went back in line again and got Daniel’s picture taken.
  12. Went out the back door to a table.
  13. Picked up Daniel’s ID.
  14. Went to another room.
  15. The lady checked Daniel’s stamped hand and let him pick up the rules book and schedule.

The end. Total time: 1 hour.

Round two. Hannah and Megan had to wait because only full-time high schoolers could go when Daniel went. They had to wait an hour for their turn.

This time we eliminated steps #1,2,3,4,and 9 because we knew what we were doing. It was also a bit amusing that the lady at the door tried to check my hand for a stamp too, like I was a high school student. Ok, I know I look young but not THAT young. I think she was just looking for hands to check!

Then we wandered around campus to look for the locations of all the classes.

Total time: 15 minutes.

What a difference when you know what you’re doing!

However, after picking up the schedules, it was confusing. It took a while to sort through all the papers.

  • What’s schedule A, B, and C?
  • What are Wednesday short days and Thursday block days?
  • How come Megan only has one class on her list and Hannah has 9 classes in 3 sections?
  • How come Schedule B corresponds with Wednesday schedule and Schedule C corresponds with Thursday schedule but nowhere does it explain that anywhere and the charts are not labelled?
  • How come Room 01A is on the left side of campus but room 1A is on the right side of the campus?
  • How come all the C rooms are next to the S rooms?
  • How come the L rooms are on one side of the campus and then you walk past the C rooms and then you come to the S rooms and then you come to the P rooms? There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the letters.
  • How come there’s  a Gym, a New Gym, and an MPR? (These 3 things are all the same room in our church!)
  • And how come the “Start Here” sign was actually located in the middle of campus instead of by either parking lot? And why is it sitting on a chair so you can’t see it if people are in front of it?

My comments are not intended to be a criticism, but a great reminder to me of what a newcomer’s experience is like when people come to our church. We don’t have any signage directing people to our restrooms… probably the #1 question people ask! There is no way for people to know where to go because the main door to our worship center entrance is in the middle of the building instead of at the end where you walk in. If there are no ushers at the door, people don’t even know what to do when they go into our worship center.

Such a great reminder that there is much we can do to make the experience positive and friendly for newcomers.

Fortunately, Daniel, who attended the high school last year, knew the answers to all the questions above (except the last one, which is a bit baffling). He gave Hannah a tour of all the classrooms. And in the end we got everything figured out.

A Yee

Angela Yee is a professional designer (graphic design, stage design, interior design — angelayeedesign.com) and teaches leadership skills at strategysketchnotes.com.

Has one comment to “A newcomer experience”

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  1. Glen Nielsen - August 20, 2010

    Outstanding documentation of the event! Thanks SOOOOO much for taking Hannah! Excellent thoughts on newcomer experiences and signage!

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