Due to the rising pandemic of COVID-19, the college has decided to close the campus for the remainder of the Spring semester, causing all classes and campus activities to abruptly transition to an online format. Although many campus resources are closed, other resources are available online to students. One of these resources includes one-on-one communication with a counselor.
According to Alex Wells, faculty chair of the Counseling Center, counselors have transitioned their in-person student meetings to an online platform called Zoom. Zoom is a remote conferencing service that allows video communication and screen sharing across mobile devices, desktops and laptops with numerous of amounts of people. Many counselors are utilizing Zoom because of its tech-friendly platform and its screen sharing.
However, the counseling department realizes that transitioning in-person meetings to Zoom can create a problem for some students. There are many students who can’t access a home computer, or don’t have a stable internet connection to have a smooth video conversation with their counselor without the chance of disconnecting. The counseling department is concerned that students won’t receive the same helpful in-person experience online. Counselors are hoping to avoid these circumstances by accommodating to every student’s situation.
“It’s taken a lot of work from our administrative assistants to reach out to all the students that were currently scheduled,” Wells said. “Every student that had an appointment was called and given options for our transition to a digital office. The other portion was making sure counselors had access to programs they needed in order to have a proper session.”
Students who can’t access an online conference are being reached out through email, text messages and through a phone call.
In all forms of communication, the counseling department are still sticking to their regular motive, which is answering student about the college and making sure students are up to date with their classes and professors.
“Finding the best way to communicate has been the trickiest part,” Wells said. “Hopefully during all this there will be an increase of students checking their email.”
Counselors who have had difficulty or concerns connecting with students are receiving help from the technical support center and are in contact through email with the counseling department. Any technical trouble that is found is being addressed immediately to ensure students aren’t being left behind. As of right now, there have been positive feedback of counselors using online communication.
Dan Mueller, counselor, has had a positive experience communicating with students. Many have been able to connect on Zoom and have been able to get the help they needed. Mueller has learned a lot working from home and how to better assist students.
“So far, my experience has been great, and I believe students are communicating easily and getting their questions and concerns addressed through Zoom and email,” Mueller said.
Mueller does note that these weeks have been challenging, but that students have done a great job changing their situations with their best efforts.
Svannah Gipson, student, planning on transferring to Emporia State University in the fall of 2020, was worried about getting the information she needed from counselors. She wanted to make sure all her credits were going to transfer and make sure she was set to start her new journey.
“I feel like it is definitely easier to connect with your instructor in person. For a moment, I was unsure because connecting online is a little harder,” said Gipson. “The transition is kind of hard, but I’m trying to accept the change and roll with it”.
During these strange times, the college is relying on technology to help students have the resources they need to stay in contact with their counselors and ease the remaining months left of the Spring Semester. It will be difficult, but the counseling department is available to answer all questions students are unsure about.
“We as counselors are trying to help students as best as we can through the technology, we have available,” Mueller said.