Capricious Counseling

Original: April 12, 2011 Issue 14

By: Hiba Ahmed

Staff Writer


Montgomery College is known as one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse colleges in the nation. Over 7,700 students from more than 170 countries are enrolled according to the college’s website.

The college is constantly hosting activities and events in honor of these students and advertises counseling services so that students from international backgrounds can get the education they need before transferring to a four-year institution.

Most students, international or not, see that the counseling department is not as concrete as they expected it to be. Words that better describe the counseling department are erratic, fickle or inconsistent.

Students enter the counseling office hoping to get the assistance they need. Some have just started college fresh from high school, some have just immigrated to America and some go with academic concerns and questions.

They wait in line for the next available counselor, which could take hours depending on the rush of students.

When they are called on asks their questions and gets their responses. Often the student remembers asking the same question to a different counselor a few days back who gave him/her a completely different response. Which counselor is the student to believe?

Instances like this always happen in the Rockville campus’s counseling office. A finite example of a student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was recommended by a counselor to take two non-credit courses. The student was concerned about having to pay for a class that would not transfer.

He/she returned to the office and a different counselor told him/her that he/she only needed to take one course. Some students in this situation would be completely confused.

Who should they believe? How is the counseling office going to be able to adhere to the needs of such a diverse college community, with various concerns, if it cannot decide on a solid response.

Most of the counselors in the department are not full time counselors. Most work at the college as professors and part time as counselors. Many students constantly have to ask question after question to an inexperienced counselor regarding their concerns and often end up asking someone else.

One would think that a college that has a partnership with the University of Maryland would be able to answer questions relating to the University of Maryland. Students get discouraging responses such as, “check the website” or “we don’t know, try calling the school.” What are the counselors there for? They are available to address the needs and concerns of the student body, whatever it may be.

The counseling department which has multiple services available, needs to work on bettering the quality of its service, so that the college can be known for its outstanding service to its diverse student population.