Semester’s first day one big Q&A session

Carissa Koetter needed help. The interior design class she wanted was full. She decided to count on good fortune and hope for the best.

“I’m going to go to class and see if I can get in,” she said Monday, the first day of classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

She stopped by an Ask Me booth on campus. Lots of others did too. The booths were all over the place, staffed with friendly people in bright red T-shirts. They gave directions, handed out coupons and offered a place for newcomers to sit and talk.

The numbers aren’t in yet, but UNLV officials expect about 27,000 students this semester. The College of Southern Nevada anticipates an enrollment of 40,000. Nevada State College expects to have 2,000 students.

They’re all starting school this week.

Officials at all three schools reported a smooth opening Monday.

Most of the students interviewed for this story did too. There were a few who blamed themselves for their problems.

CSN sophomore Shonna Flippen didn’t register until Thursday, a late start that shut her out of the math, science and English classes she needs for a secondary education major.

She spent most of Monday knocking on professors’ doors trying to get in.

“I’m just making sure I stay focused and get other classes done in my concentration,” she said. “I thought I was going to have to step back and not graduate until 2012.”

Koetter, the UNLV student hoping to get into an interior design class, had a similar problem. She was admitted late, so she registered late, which meant the class she wanted was full.

Other UNLV students could face the same situation. School officials have said there could be a shortage of courses this year. They’ve cut hundreds of sections because of state budget problems brought on by a shortfall in tax revenues.

Most registration is done online, and the last day to add a class or drop one with a full refund is Friday. So the effect of reduced class offerings won’t be known until after that.

But with or without budget problems, school goes on.

In the courtyard outside UNLV’s engineering building Monday, students killed time between classes.

A guy ate a muffin and talked on his cell phone.

A girl highlighted important parts of a fat text book while drinking a Rock Star energy drink.

Alicia Martinez surfed Yahoo on her laptop.

She said she just got out of a kinesiology class. Her next class, radiography, didn’t start for another half hour.

Martinez, 17, a Shadow Ridge High School graduate, got interested in the health field after her mom was in a car wreck a few years ago.

The teenager said the physical therapy saved her mom’s life.

Martinez is unsure what she will major in, so she’s taking a few classes to see what fits.

“It’s just my first day,” she said.

At one of the Ask Me booths, the free daily planners with the UNLV logos went fast.

“Yeah, I’m listening Steve,” said one girl on a cell phone, who clearly was not listening as she picked up a planner. “I was just looking for a planner? Because Ask Me gives you free planners? I lived in mine last year.”

Inside the student union, 18 people waited in line at Starbucks; 14 were in line for Jamba Juice. The people working at the Sprint and WaMu tables looked lonely. The sofas were full.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at or 702-383-0307. Reporter Maggie Lillis contributed to this story.

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