City College to add 9 counselors next fall to shorten wait times

French+and+Spanish+double+major+Veronica+Ghisoni+%28left%29+gets+information+about+applying+for+an+associate+degree+from+Academic+Counselor+Christy+Grant%2C+Thursday%2C+Feb.+19%2C+at+the+Academic+Counseling+Center+on+East+Campus.+Nine+new+counselors+are+being+hired+at+city+college%3B+five+under+Academic+Counseling%2C+two+through+Express+to+Success+%28ESP%29%2C+one+through+the+Transfer+Achievement+Program%2C+and+another+through+Extended+Opportunity+Programs+and+Services.

Nicole Wong

French and Spanish double major Veronica Ghisoni (left) gets information about applying for an associate degree from Academic Counselor Christy Grant, Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Academic Counseling Center on East Campus. Nine new counselors are being hired at city college; five under Academic Counseling, two through Express to Success (ESP), one through the Transfer Achievement Program, and another through Extended Opportunity Programs and Services.

MEGAN ROBERTS-KING, Channels Staff

City College is hiring nine new counselors for Fall 2015 in an effort to improve the counseling experience for students.

Appointing new staff members to the counseling office will allow students to receive the help needed in a more timely manner and will significantly cut down the 1,300 to one student counselor ratio.

Students have complained about counseling and the lack of availability for years, and the response to these new additions has been positive.

“I feel like we really need this,” said City College student Courtney Correia. “We have way too many students for the number of counselors here.”

Jack Friedlander, executive vice president of educational programs, is overseeing the grant money associated with hiring of new counselors.

“The main thing is students won’t feel so frustrated in having to wait too long to see a counselor,” said Friedlander. “You know, the clock is ticking. You need help when you need it.”

The new staff will be placed into different programs in an effort to benefit as many students as possible. Four will be hired into the academic counseling office while two will work within the Express to Success Program, which allows students to reach their educational goals faster.

Two more of the counselors will be placed into the Transfer Achievement Program and the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, while the final counselor will be designated to work with incoming students from nearby high schools.

Personalized counseling has already been tested within some of City College’s specialized programs, and was reported to give students a more customized and comfortable experience.

New local students will be assigned to a counselor who will manage their educational careers as an experiment to determine the impact it has on the process.

“When you try something new, you field test it,” Friedlander said. “We did, so now we are expanding to a larger number of students and if that works then we will get the bugs out the system.”

The positions were announced earlier this month at a College Planning Council meeting, and will be funded by the Student Equity Program and the Student Success and Support Program.

“I’m so thankful that we have got this additional funding,” said Oscar Zavala, chair of the academic counseling department. “I think that really has sent a statement statewide that our role is critical in helping students succeed and know what they need to do.”

More counselors being brought into the office will affect those that are already employed.

“In terms of morale, I think it will definitely help. There’s going to be a greater distribution of workload,” said Zavala. “And then, it’s just a lot more people to schedule. Scheduling is a big thing, and making sure we have adequate coverage throughout the year.”

The impact of these new counselors is expected to provide students with help that is more accessible and timely, however appointments scheduled on a different day are not likely to happen anytime soon.

A challenge the counseling office has recognized is that students frequently wait to seek educational advice until class schedules come out. This causes the office to be extremely busy during certain times of the year. Zavala explained that while in between these times, appointments often go unfilled.

“Students are settling, and they are not thinking about what they are going to do next semester,” Zavala said. “It doesn’t really matter how many counselors we have here, because they are all coming at one time. We need to really try to change the culture of students, and get them in here when it’s not so busy.”