Advisers gearing up for change to proactive system

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Correction: Joan Tsacalis’ name is misspelled in the article below.

Students will hear from advisers instead of waiting for appointments.

Anthony B Botello

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

San Antonio College’s counseling center is changing how it functions, revamping its operations as it strives to be more proactive in advising students.

The counseling center in Room 100 of Moody Learning Center helps students with academic planning, personal counseling, degree and advising plans, transferring, academic probation dismissal, registration and adding or dropping classes, said new program Coordinator Joan Isacalis.

To get the most out of the center, students should bring evidence of dual credits, transcripts, their academic resume and any questions about their career path, she said. “The college is halfway to our staffing goal of hiring 60 advisers, though training certified advisers takes a year,” Isacalis said.

The center is revamping its advising system, she said. Changes include moving from an intrusive system of having to go to advisers to a new progressive counseling plan where students will be approached.

Isacalis also is determining whether students will be categorized by field of study or alphabetical order.

“My goal is to make sure service of students is not compromised,” Isacalis said.

Isacalis said students don’t need to be concerned about the details of the new advising system until they are worked out. She said emails will let students know about any updates.

Although district came up with the plan, it’s up to each college to figure out how to implement it, said David Rodriguez, former program coordinator of the counseling center.

“(The) biggest difference is it’s going to be more proactive, reaching out to the student, rather then waiting for them to come to us,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said if students need help deciding on a major, the counseling center can provide assessments that will suggest career paths.

“Like online dating finds your likes and matches you up with careers,” Rodriguez explained.

Rodriguez also pointed out counselors are licensed and can help in all areas, while advisers may have to refer students to a counselor’s private offices for personal matters.

Advising can help guide students who know what they want to do into careers or vocations that are in demand. “You wouldn’t want to train to be a VCR repairman,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said advising isn’t mandatory, but it’s a good idea to get degree audits, especially if students have changed majors or plan to transfer.

Advisers also will emphasize students can only drop six classes in the course of a college degree.

Keeping in mind the three-repeat rule, which affects state tuition, and showing satisfactory financial aid, Rodriguez advises the best time to check in is now, well before spring registration begins in November.

The counseling center also provides job placement services, such as “Job Link,” job fairs and career fairs. Job fairs offer interviews with area employers and a chance to get hired on the spot.

Career fairs are a place to make connections with future employers, practice interview skills and learn the steps toward a desired career.

A transfer fair featuring representatives of four-year universities is 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 3 in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center.

For more information, call the transfer center at 210-486-0342.

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