Students should have easier access to counselors


Maryam Orujova/Special to the Union

El Camino College implemented a new counseling appointment system located on the ECC website last January that was supposed to help ease the difficulties that came with making appointments.

Before the online counseling appointment system, students were only able to make appointments in person one day out of the week, which was a big inconvenience.

The online counseling appointment system was said to allow students to make appointments for the following week any day of the week at any time.

This semester, however, has been a challenging one for ECC students seeking counseling appointments for academic guidance as appointment availability fills up quickly.

Many ECC students have struggled to book and find counseling appointments through the online counseling scheduling system and even in person.

ECC students are encouraged to seek counseling from counselors through special programs such as First Year Experience (FYE), Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS), and CalWorks if they are having trouble booking an appointment with general counselors.

But let’s not forget about the students that aren’t enrolled in any of these special programs and don’t have access to these counselors.

ECC students that aren’t enrolled in these programs still have to plan their schedules for future semesters at ECC or might even be in the process of figuring out if they’re eligible to graduate and/or transfer to a university.

ECC strives to have its students transfer out to a university within two years, but are unable to provide students with timely academic guidance.

Yes, students can go to express counseling to get some of their more minor questions answered, but in-depth information cannot be given to a student within 15-30 minutes.

If students are looking to make an appointment with a counselor then it’s probably because they need more one-on-one time with a counselor to figure out whatever it is that they need.

The ECC Counseling Department found that students are more likely to complete their education if they book counseling appointments and plan their coursework with the help of counselors, Dean of Counseling and Student Success Dipte Patel said.

Since counseling is a fundamental part of a student’s success in college, it should not be as difficult as it is for students to get an appointment with a counselor.

ECC students that are unable to book an appointment to see a counselor in person, on the phone, or through the online counseling appointment system are instructed to check the website again at midnight because that is when new appointment dates and times are made available to students.

Though it’s understandable that the ECC Counseling Department is hesitant in opening up more appointments because of the increase in no-shows, they cannot expect students to keep going in every day asking if there is availability.

Students cannot and should not waste their time going in to the Counseling Department because of the “kinks” in the online system that won’t show that there are available appointments during certain times of the day. Those kinks should’ve been fixed ahead of time.

Opening up more appointment dates and times would give students a better chance of booking a counseling appointment which would in turn help ease their mind knowing that they will get the help and guidance that they are in search of.

The ECC Counseling Department could also do better in areas of advertising the different types of counseling that they offer.

Communicating to students that every department at ECC has specific counselors would give them a go-to person for anything that they need.

Going to the same counselor to work on an educational would reduce the confusion that a student might feel when going to multiple counselors and hearing different instructions or suggestions from each counselor and would ensure that the student stays on track to complete their education plan.

Hiring more counselors can also be a way to ensure that there are more appointment availabilities.

According to the ECC Factbook 2017-2018, ECC averaged about 1,585 transfers every year between the years 2013 and 2018. As of fall 2019, there are only five transfer counselors available to students.

If the same average of students graduate during this school year, then that would mean that each transfer counselor would have to accommodate about 317 students into their schedules.

That number isn’t even taking into consideration the number of other students that these counselors might have to see if they offer counseling in other special programs.

The Union acknowledges that there are things that the ECC Counseling Department cannot control, like the system only opening up appointments at midnight, but there should be other procedures in place to make up for those complications.

Students should never be turned away from counseling and should never be left to feel confused and hopeless about scheduling an appointment for something that could potentially affect their entire lives.