SMC counselors are the main source for student transfers

Transferring from a community college to a four-year university can be a daunting, stressful task. Students do not always know which classes to take to fulfill requirements, and the pressure of balancing schoolwork with other responsibilities can be too much to handle.

A transfer is certainly possible with hard work and dedication, along with good counselors lending a helping hand.

At Santa Monica College, counselors are the most powerful resource students have in the transfer process.

Thus, the quality of service offered is crucial to the success and well being of the student body.

Given SMC’s transfer record, it can be assumed that the counseling department is doing a good job of helping students transfer.

However, some students are dissatisfied with the quality of counseling services at SMC. These students sought patience and dedication from their counselors, but did not receive it.

“It’s my second year at SMC, and I have already sampled five counselors. Some were more inattentive than others. This one counselor would stare idly into his Pandora music website while I talked,” said Jessica Chuan, Director of financial support for the SMC Associated Students.

Some students have complained about the number of counselors limited for a school that so widely advertises its transfer success rate.

Students with busy schedules sometimes enter the counseling center to find themselves in a two-hour line, and simply leave.

This leaves students with the option to see a five-minute express counselor, which may ultimately lead to an unsatisfying, short experience with limited information acquired.

Laurie Guglielmo, chair of the counseling department, said in an interview with the Corsair, “we would love to have more counselors, it would be easier for all of us, but there has been a real surge in the population. People are getting back from losing their jobs, and there is more pressure to get an education driving people over here. But with the budget crush, fewer services are available.”

The beginning of a semester is always the most crucial time of the year for students to seek advice from their counselors.

However, many students tend to wait until after they are enrolled to seek counseling advice, which makes the task a lot harder.

One way to avoid the long lines would be to schedule an appointment with a counselor ahead of time, especially during a new session when the demands are higher.

“It’s kind of like the DMV. If you don’t want to wait in line for hours, you’ve got to be proactive and get here on time,” Guglielmo said.

Students have also debated the merits of advice given by some counselors and its inconsistency with that of others, which can further muddle the transfer path.

According to Guglielmo, students ask different sets of questions of different counselors, often presenting new and distinct issues, to which each counselor will respond to accordingly.

“Human interaction is fluid. Everything is not black and white. A lot of factors have to be considered. (The counselors) do their best and screen all options according to the situation they’ve been presented.”

Students must be very direct and clear with their counselors so that the counselors can understand their needs.

This also applies to the counselors, who need to be clearer with their advice and information so students can better comprehend what they need to do.

“After searching, I found that most counselors truly care about (students’) success, and my current counselor is extremely perceptive and knowledgeable ” said Chuan, Director of financial support for the AS.

The Transfer Center holds a number of workshops throughout the year to help students fulfill IGETC and CSU Breadth Requirements.

Students are strongly encouraged to attend these workshops to attain a clearer understanding of the transfer process.

Taking advantage of the counseling department during a non-enrollment cycle is the most effective step students can take to ensure immediate service and overall satisfaction.

As Guglielmo puts it, “It all comes down to timing. Schedule in advance, then we can really assist!”