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New Ask Us Chat Service Offers Students Real-Time, Online Advice from College Counselors, Advisors

January 11, 2007

Progressive online services are a must for today's college students. To meet this technological must-have, Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC) is launching real-time, online student advising through an instant messaging service called Ask Us Chat. Offering Ask Us Chat services makes ARCC the first public educational institution in Minnesota to offer chat line advising services to its students.

Beginning January 16, the first day of the spring semester, Ask Us Chat will be available Monday - Friday, 12 - 1 p.m. and again Monday and Thursday evenings, 7 - 8 p.m. Throughout the term, Ask Us Chat will be monitored for use and hours will expand as demand builds.

"Ask Us Chat is phase two of our popular Ask Us online service initiative," says John Hennen, ARCC Counselor.

New Ask Us chat service starting at Anoka-Ramsey Community College The addition of Ask Us Chat to Anoka-Ramsey Community College web services grants students real-time, online access to counselors and advisors to get the answers they need to succeed.

The first phase of Ask Us made answers available 24/7 for frequently asked questions (FAQs) on 35 popular topics, such as course registration, student health insurance, graduation requirements and much more.

The second phase Ask Us Chat is not ARCC's only technological first. When phase one Ask Us was first offered in November 2005, ARCC became the first community college in Minnesota to offer online advising services in this format. In July 2006, ARCC was recognized for the Ask Us effort by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) with an award for Innovation in Student Affairs Programming. Ask Us Chat service continues to raise the bar for this type of service.

"Ask Us Chat will ensure that the same walk-in advising services that are available on-campus are available online," says Andrea Roberge, ARCC Counselor, faculty and Ask Us project administrator. "We know our students have busy and sometimes challenging lives, and we are committed to meeting their changing advising needs using multiple delivery formats."

Using Ask Us Chat
To access the Ask Us services, users on ARCC's Web site can click on the oval "Ask-Us" icon. If answers are not available in the searchable Ask Us FAQs, users can click on the "Chat with Advisor" tab to chat directly with an advisor during available hours to get the information they need via direct answer or a link to an ARCC Web page with comprehensive information. Users can also select the "Ask a Question" tab to e-mail their question for an accurate response from the appropriate college office within one business day.

ARCC is on the cutting edge of online services with the state-of-the-art RightNow Technologies platform that many corporations, government and non-profit agencies and educational institutions use throughout the nation, but chat line language should be old-fashioned English.

"I'm hoping Ask Us Chat users will limit their use of popular chat abbreviations to avoid misunderstandings and confusion," Hennen says. "Our only goal is to provide fast, accurate and complete answers."

Along with Ask Us Chat and Ask Us, ARCC offers other Web-based student services, including online courses, new student orientation, financial aid application and award review, course registration, tuition payment, tutoring, transcript review, degree credit review, transferability of courses and a student email system.

For more information on Ask Us Chat, Ask Us or any Anoka-Ramsey Community College online service, visit www.AnokaRamsey.edu.