One-on-one community college counseling is necessary for student success

Haley Clark, Reporter

Making the switch from high school to college can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to determining what classes have to be taken in order to graduate. 

According to BigFuture’s Community College FAQ, more than 40% of undergraduate students in the United States attend community colleges. In my opinion, academic counseling at community colleges does more harm than good when it comes to keeping students on track to graduate.

The Moorpark College Counseling website states that counselors are available to offer express drop-in and virtual counseling to, “help answer your questions, make an educational plan, and offer guidance to ensure your success in all your academic endeavors.” 

I started my college education at Moorpark College to complete my general education requirements at a lower cost then transfer to a four-year university. What was supposed to be two years at the school ended up being three because I was misled by my academic advisors to take classes that did not count towards transfer credit. 

Martha Griffith, a California State University, Northridge alum who graduated in May 2021, said in a Zoom interview she remembers feeling overwhelmed attending a drop-in meeting with a counselor at Moorpark College.

“I was having issues with adding classes and wanted to check my progress toward finishing my general education requirements,” Griffith said. “The counselor handed me a packet with pages of different classes and basically told me to figure it out when it came time to register.” 

I remember seeking academic counseling my first year at Moorpark College. I had no one else to confide in to help me figure out what classes I had to take and was desperate for answers. Despite visiting different counselors multiple times, I always left their office more confused than I was before.

I was be told by one counselor to take an art class and a science class with a lab one semester, and the next semester a different counselor would tell me those classes weren’t what I needed to be taking. This made me so anxious and took away my trust in the academic advising process.

Griffith said during her time at community college she felt like the counselors did not care enough to take the time to help her in mapping out the classes she needed to take to transfer. 

“It was almost as if they purposely misguide students to keep them there longer and make more money off of them,” Griffith said. “There is definitely a lack of genuine interest for student success.”

There is an expectation that a college counselor is supposed to be a helping hand throughout the time you are there and assist in planning out the next four years of your life. They should give advice on what classes you should be taking and provide additional resources if you are struggling. 

Other students who started at a community college agree that this unfortunately is not the case.

Ari Viola graduated from California State University Northridge in May 2021. She spent three years at Moorpark College taking many classes she ended up not actually needing which prolonged her college experience.

“I was told I wasn’t able to see an actual counselor, but rather I had to do a ‘quick counseling session,’” Viola said in a phone interview. “When I told them I transferred from an out-of-state college all they told me was to base my classes off of the plan the counselors my previous school assigned me.” 

Viola said when registration for the next semester came, her counselor at Moorpark College told her the classes she took the previous semester were completely wrong.

“I was very frustrated with the lack of guidance and misinformation I was given,” Viola said.

I believe there is a divide between academic counselors at a university and academic counselors at community colleges. I think to improve academic counseling at community college, there should be more devotion to one-on-one assistance to ensure student success and well-being as a main priority.