Division dean emphasizes face-to-face counseling services

Diane Jones, senior counseling office assistant, helps answer a student’s questions. (Oliver Yu – The Lariat)

Amelia Rushbrook

An increasing number of online counseling services are available to Saddleback College students through the college Web site and other sites like ASSIST.org.

But Jerilyn Chuman, Dean of Counseling Services and Special Programs, said that students should use online services like Online Advisor and My Academic Plan as a supplement to face-to-face meetings with a counselor, not as a substitute for them.

“If you have a quick question, Online Advisor is appropriate,” Chuman said.

However, Chuman believes the online services can not provide the detailed information and individual attention students get from talking to a counselor in person.

“We ask students to come in [to the counseling office] once a semester,” Chuman said.

Students intending to transfer from Saddleback to a California State University or University of California can use the website ASSIST (www.assist.org) to find out which Saddleback classes are transferable to their university of choice. Chuman said that ASSIST is a great tool for transfer students, but that they still need to meet with a counselor regularly to get up-to-date information not available online.

Some of the questions Chuman said that students might not find answers to online include whether or not the transfer universities are accepting students in the winter quarter, and what GPA they require for their courses.

“[The transfer universities] keep changing the rules,” she said.

It’s not just transfer students who can benefit from counseling services. Personal and career counseling is available as well as academic counseling and counselors can help students with all aspects of life, from improving relationships to practicing job interview skills.

“Counseling is helpful all the way through, no matter what your goal is,” Chuman said. “We try to meet the needs of students.”

Chuman recommends that students see a counselor early in their time at Saddleback to work on college and career goal setting.

Many students expect to have a revelation telling them what they are meant to do in life, Chuman said, but “a light’s not going to come down from the sky.”

Most students lack the skill sets to make life decisions, Chuman said, especially those coming from high school which is “an atmosphere where everything’s done for you.”

“Having so many choices and no idea where to begin can really be a challenge to some students, and they can really get blown off course,” Chuman said.

Working with a counselor or attending career classes can introduce students to careers they have not heard of before, and help them to figure out what goals they should be working towards.

“Students are successful when they know what they want,” Chuman said. 

Students can access the Online Advisor service through the counseling department web Site: www.saddleback.edu/counseling. The My Academic Plan tool, which helps students to create personalized academic plans, is accessible through MySite.

The counseling office is located in Room 167 of the Student Services Center. To make an appointment, call (949) 582-4572 or visit the office.

The counseling office is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

For more information visit www.saddleback.edu/counseling. ASSIST.org helps students transfer from community colleges to UC or CSU campuses. Find out which Saddleback courses will transfer at www.assist.org.

Jerilyn Chuman, Dean of Counseling Services and Special Programs. (Oliver Yu – The Lariat)

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