By Andres Castro
Students attending the Ammerman campus are not pleased with the counseling they are receiving.
Liberal Arts major Sarah Maye, is in her last semester and has visited the counseling center three to four times in her years attending Suffolk County Community College.
“I visited the counseling center because I wanted to change my major. I wanted to be an athletic trainer, but instead of telling me about any of the fitness classes I should take the counselor just put me in liberal arts,” Sarah Maye said.
Liberal Arts major Patrice Fusco, is in her fourth semester and visits the counseling center every semester.
“At first I didn’t know if I should major in nursing or liberal arts because I didn’t have an exact idea of what I wanted to do. The counselor told me to be a nursing major when he should have told me to be liberal arts major,” Patrice Fusco said.
On the SCCC website, the counseling center is described as a place that assist all students in defining and accomplishing personal, academic, and career goals.
Dr. Thomas Tyson is the Assistant Dean of Students and the Director of Counseling.
“Academic advising is the biggest thing we do. Almost 14,000 interactions with students per year. We also do career counseling, transfer counseling, psychological services, services for veterans, mental health community resources, and workshops,” Tyson said.
Being knowledgeable of the courses SCCC has to offer is one of the many things counselors are expected to do but it seems they are not as informed as people want they to be.
“The first counselor I went to was nice but I don’t think he should be steering students in the wrong direction he should have known if I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do then he should have suggested that I major in liberal arts so that I can experience different classes,” Fusco said.
Kathryn Parish, mother of SCCC student, has her own opinion on the counseling center.
“My kids have gone to the counseling center and the counselors are telling them to take classes they don’t need. They just waste time,” Parish said.
“In order to be a counselor at SCCC you need to have a Master’s degree in counseling or a related field such as social work. We have meetings constantly so we have the latest information, four meetings a semester. We meet with college representatives and get anything we need to know for our students. We also do visitations to different colleges,” Tyson said.
14,000 interactions with students per year is a large number but are these interactions giving students what they need? On the SCCC website, it says that the staff is guided by a belief in the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each individual. By providing a confidential atmosphere conducive to openness, self-exploration, and change, counselors work with students to foster growth, independence, and self-esteem.
“I felt like I was being rushed. I felt like I was just another student, nothing special. Just throw her in liberal arts. They were supposed to set me up for my future but I wasn’t. If I was to grade the counseling center I would give them a C- or D,” Maye said.
“After not liking the counselor I was assigned my friend referred me to Dorothy Cafone. She is awesome I literally call her every single semester. She told me I should have done liberal arts from the start. So I guess it just depends on what counselor you get,” Fusco said.
“Either you get a good counselor or a bad counselor,” Parish said.
“I am lucky to have a very knowledgeable and dedicated staff. People who really get satisfaction with helping students. They just know so much and are very nice. They are a good group,” Tyson said.
With the different views of the counseling center it can be agreed on both sides that there is room for improvement and that steps are being taken to enhance the counseling center.
“They should increase appointment times. They should take time and make you feel special and seem like they really want to help you. They should give you more information about your major and what classes to take. If they did that then the dropout rate would be better,” Maye said.
“In every year we can always learn and do better, there is always room for improvement. We could improve in social media and the way we communicate with our students. We could improve on being able to do walk-ins. We have meetings to learn and are just trying to get better in every area,” Tyson said.
“I keep going to the counseling center because I keep hoping I get something different and that it will change,” Maye said.