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Cougar Center Preps for Student Surge

On Aug. 20, more than 2,200 incoming freshmen will begin the process of moving into campus dorm rooms at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Two days later, several thousand more SIUE upperclassmen will follow suit, transforming what had been a quiet summer campus into a bustling ball of energy by the time the school year officially begins on Aug. 24.

For the staff at TheBANK of Edwardsville’s Cougar Center, located on campus inside the Morris University Center, it means executing their well-established plan of action to handle the rush of students and faculty.


“It’s crazy and it’s hectic, but it’s a lot of fun at the same time,” said TheBANK of Edwardsville Cougar Center Manager Becky Yarbrough, who has been the manager since the branch first opened on campus in 2007. “In a three or four day span, thousands of kids show up, there are activities going on all over campus and, in our center, we get incredibly busy from the time we open until we close.”

To handle the sudden influx of customers, extra staff members will be assigned to the Cougar Center beginning Aug. 17 – the university’s International Student Orientation Day ­– and will remain through the first week or two of school. In addition, a temporary workstation is set up in the center’s conference room to help handle the extra volume. Meanwhile, TheBANK extends the hours of the center to accommodate as many students as possible, remaining open until 6 p.m. from Aug. 17 through Aug. 28 – an hour later than normal closing time.

The university also helps its outside vendors like TheBANK by having several events over the summer to help incoming students prepare for the coming school year. One of those programs is its freshman orientation called “Springboard to Success.” During Springboards, incoming freshman and their parents get a chance to visit the campus and learn about all it has to offer, including the products and services at TheBANK.

“Springboards do help,” Yarbrough said. “We get a chance to meet with a lot of students and their parents and let them know exactly how we can help them. A lot of them open their accounts at that time so they don’t have to worry about it when school starts.”  

While summer events like Springboards ease the transition to the school year, a surge of thousands of students in a three day span is an exhilarating experience for everyone involved, according to Yarbrough.

“I don’t think it’s possible to completely prepare for everything that comes up during the start of the school year, but we have plans in place and do the best we can,” she said. “It’s a hectic time for the students as well, especially the incoming freshmen who are trying to figure everything out. So our goal is to help as many students and faculty as we can and make sure that they don’t have to worry about their banking at such a stressful time.”

Visit the Cougar Banking Center website at