Just make an appointment

If you try walking into the Counseling Complex at Santa Monica College expecting to drop in, you will be met with a whiteboard that states “Drop-ins are over! Now taking appointments only!” It seems like every year as more students are enrolling at SMC, it becomes apparent that if you want your questions answered, you are going to have to think ahead and beat the crowd, as if you were in a line at Best Buy before Black Friday.

However, the current counseling system works, for the most part. If you are confused about what classes to take or have questions about transferring, making an appointment is convenient and gives you the chance to sit down with your counselor one on one to calmly and smoothly direct you in the right path.

“Counseling is provided in several different locations around campus, and the way service is offered depends on the number of available counselors in a particular program, student traffic, and whether or not we are in the enrollment cycle,” said Laurie Guglielmo, chair of the counseling department.

For students who need urgent questions answered and cannot wait for an appointment when the only available date is a week later, it can be frustrating. At that point, a counselor may not even be necessary because you answered your question on your own, or you missed a crucial deadline.

“In the Transfer Counseling Center, we usually offer express counseling, which is designed for quick questions requiring five to ten minutes of counseling time,” Guglielmo said. “For students who have more complicated concerns, such as the transfer of credit from another institution, a half hour appointment is necessary.”

However, due to the prevalence of information online and websites like Assist, many students can opt to never visit a counselor while attending SMC.

I have not gone to see a counselor since the end of my freshman year because both Assist and the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum have guided me along the way, and I have not seen the need to make an appointment to see one.

Every semester I have picked up the latest version of IGETC and marked it up with what I have done and what I still need to complete, while also checking the Assist website.

I spoke to a representative from University of California, San Diego at a recent college fair on campus, who recommended that I check Assist for courses that are required by the university.

Counseling services on campus are dependent upon students’ particular needs, and some have no problem with the current system.

“The first time I came to the counseling center, it wasn’t a long wait; it was pretty quick actually,” said SMC student Divia Jimenez, who recalls a tedious counseling system at her former school, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “To get resources was a lot harder there, but here I get my answers quickly, and it’s straightforward which I like.”

“I do think that a counselor just for walk-ins could be useful to a lot of people because, you never know, maybe I’ll have a question I needed answered ASAP,” said Jimenez who made her appointment to see a counselor the week prior.

The old saying “first come, first served” is a very fitting slogan for the counseling center. If you need to see a counselor, take quick action and make an appointment, or stop by during the occasions where drop-ins or express counseling are available.