ARC needs to make improvements to the counseling experience

Hiring more counselors and assigning certain majors to each counselor are things that can be done


American River College needs to make improvements to the counseling experience. Students have many issues getting in contact with a counselor, or sometimes getting the wrong information when they do. (Photo by Heather Amberson)

In college, the counseling experience is vital for students to understand the classes they need to meet their major requirements and be able to transfer to a four-year college. The counseling at American River College needs improvements to give students the help they need. 

Hiring more counselors, assigning counselors to help with students from certain majors and making counselors more available to students are all things that ARC should do to improve the college’s counseling experience. 

ARC President Melanie Dixon addressed this topic during an Aug. 26 meeting with ARC staff. During the meeting she discussed the student experience and the need to help move second-year students through ARC.

A student must work with a counselor in order to move through the college system. To do so, the student either has to set an appointment or call the counseling office and be put on a same day waitlist—that is, if there are any available times. 

This means the student usually does not see the same counselor. The information or aid a student needs can vary depending on who the student speaks with. Often, the information can be inaccurate and require the student to make a different appointment. 

Sometimes a student does not know they are receiving inaccurate information. This can prevent them from getting to where they need to be. 

Dixon shared in the Aug. 26 meeting that HomeBase is central to helping the student get through the education process.

Each HomeBase has four dedicated counselors that know how to help students. This information should be made clearer to students, so they know that there are more people they can talk to that know exactly what they need for their major. 

When you go into the counseling center there seems to be a lack of counselors available. You either have to wait for a time to become available, which can be weeks out at some points, or wake up early in the morning and hope that you can get a time to have a phone appointment. 

For students who have busy days, this can make it seem impossible to get a counseling appointment and get the help needed to get classes, as well as any other information that is needed to be successful. 

One way to fix this issue is to hire more counselors, so that there are always a number of counselors available to help as many students as possible.  

It seems that many counselors take vacations in the summer, so students who need help before signing up for fall classes have a hard time getting a meeting. 

Something that can be done is to either hire counselors to specifically work during the summer, or make a schedule so there are always multiple counselors available on campus to help students with what they need. 

From a student perspective, the counseling system at ARC has turned into yet another obstacle they must overcome in order to advance in their college careers. This counteracts the true purpose of a counselor: to assist students through their college experience.

The good intentions of ARC, the counseling team and the Los Rios Community College District should not be ignored or underplayed however. Collectively, they have opened the door to an affordable college opportunity to those who otherwise may not have the resources to receive an education.

Students have found the solutions to many of their problems through counseling appointments. It is a great and powerful communication tool that needs continued improvement. 

Making some of these changes can make the counseling department better, and help achieve the goal of moving students through ARC faster.