December 22, 2023

An Interview with Jenna Anand, Director, Center for Academic Planning and Support (CAPS) and Advising and Transfer Center, Great Bay Community College

As director of the Center for Academic Planning and Support (CAPS) and Advising and Transfer Center, Jenna M. Anand helps oversees all aspects of the student experience at Great Bay Community College, from entrance testing for all new students, to tutoring and academic advising for enrolled students, to transfers to four-year schools for students who want to continue their education.

She loves helping students succeed. “I like making it possible for people to change their trajectory, to land a better job or get the career they want,” said Anand, who has worked at Great Bay Community College since 2012. “I like to guide them through some of the challenges so they can achieve their academic and career goals.”

What are students most apprehensive about when meeting with you to discuss starting a degree program?

I think they are afraid they are making the wrong decision. I think we put a lot of pressure on young people to have it all figured out. That is ideal if you know where you are going and what you need to do to get there. But that is not typical. Students who are less certain of their goals are often afraid about making a bad decision — are they wasting money? Are they taking the wrong classes? We tell them that depending on their long-term goals, it’s hard to make a wrong decision during your first semester. The earlier you know, the better financially and time wise. But we’re here to help make sure they make the right decisions.

Does it make any difference if a student enrolls in the spring semester instead of the fall semester?

At Great Bay, there isn’t that much of a difference. We do rolling admission and accept students into every semester—fall, spring and summer. There is a whole cohort of students who start in the spring. For the most part, we are set up to start students every semester. Our spring semester does not have a formal orientation. Our spring orientation is online, so that is a slight difference, but, we are able to meet one-on-one for onboarding, and the classes are the same.

What advice do you give to someone who has been out of school for a while?

Credits don’t expire! Whether from GBCC or another college. We’ve had folks return to complete degrees they started 20+ years ago.  While some program curriculums do change and some science and technology programs do have courses that expire—for the most part a class you took is a class that counts. Let’s see how close you are to completing—a lot of times completing a credential can lead to better opportunities and advancement at work.

Do you see students at this time who did not do well during their first semester at another college?

Yes, the first semester of college is when students normally see the lowest GPAs of their academic careers. They are struggling to figure out so much—who they are, what they enjoy, how they function in the world and yes—learn and study, etc. Some students see that low/lower GPA and feel they are in the wrong place, but really—that’s just the process of trying/learning something new!  You aren’t going to be great at everything straight out of the gate.  Going into your second semester, students have time to reflect and consider what to do differently.

We also see students who may have done well but are leaving a current situation because of a social reason, which is very common. In some situations, they missed the deadline to apply and transfer to another 4-year degree program. GBCC offers time to take classes, re-group and take classes.

What does Great Bay do differently when it comes to advising students throughout their college experience?

Because of our size and our ability to deliver personal attention, I think, we are able to help students identify their long-term goals and to look at the whole picture. We try to help them look at where they are going, to identify their dreams, and how Great Bay can help them achieve them.

What is the most common advice you offer to students?

On average, classes are going to take about 10 hours a week. I feel that many people don’t believe me when I say that. But students sometimes forget they will have homework and they need to block out time to do the work the class requires. The most common student pitfalls I see are students who can’t block out time to focus on their classwork. Sometimes this is a lack of time management, but sometimes this is a lack of time.  We try to work with students on prioritizing, scheduling, and time saving ideas.  We’ve had single, working parents of multiple children complete the Nursing program as an example of a situation where there is an intense academic program with many conflicting demands on a student’s time—it’s not easy, but we can help students develop this skill.

What do you see as the biggest benefit to starting at a CC. 

The obvious reasons are things like cost, small classes and, with support, having the time and tools to improve academically and build a career interest. Also, the chance to take ownership of your education and learning the skills to advocate for yourself. Gaining confidence is big. For most students, this is the most expensive first endeavor into independence. We help them to learn how to navigate college and do it successfully. They come to realize that if they can do that here, they can do that at other places too.

To learn more about starting or completing your degree and how to get started, contact [email protected] or visit