The Pierce College Counseling Center has established a virtual platform making it more convenient for students to get help.
Express Counseling is the latest addition to Pierce’s website. Students are able to drop in to the online center and speak with a counselor for up to 15 minutes from their computers and smart devices.
Judy Lam, the counselor of New Programs, said that the center has been able to reach more students because of the service.
“Just in the last few weeks, we have served hundreds of students through Express Counseling,” Lam said. “The service is more streamlined.”
Before the pandemic hit in 2020, the center offered online counseling services that were minimally available to students in need of assistance.
To help with students seeking to speak with a counselor, the department opened up a live chat feature on Cranium Café. According to Counseling Department Chair Tara McCarthy, students were not impressed.
“We started getting feedback that it was difficult to find a counselor online,” McCarthy said. “It was very frustrating. It turned into a scavenger hunt for students.”
McCarthy said that because of the rapid demand for counseling support online, counselors had to act fast.
“We rebranded the service to help with changes in the pandemic,” McCarthy said.
According to McCarthy, there are multiple counselors who are scheduled to be in the Express Counseling Lobby every hour and help students while in their virtual office.
“It’s kind of similar to when students used to be on campus when they would fill out a form and have a few quick questions answered,” McCarthy said. “We turned that into an online space.”
The newly upgraded online counseling system has already received positive feedback since it first rolled out during winter session this year.
Academic Counselor, Lily Duong said that though the transition to online services was difficult at first, teamwork helped everything go smoothly.
“For (students) to be able to go into Express Counseling and see a counselor, and for us to be available to help them is really a win-win situation,” Duong said.
Duong also said that counselors are now able to offer greater online support than ever before.
“It’s all about the students,” Duong said. “We want our students to be successful, accessing whatever resources are available to further their education and to eventually transfer to four-year schools.”
According to Lam, students can drop-in to Express Counseling to get help on pivotal academic questions, like what classes to take or to create one-to-two year academic plans. Express counseling also covers general counseling inquiries like prerequisite clearances, college procedures, policies, referrals to campus resources and math/english placement.
“Don’t be discouraged in making appointments,” Lam said. “We want to make sure students get the help that they need.”
The counseling department is online Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You can use your student portal account to log in.