Written by: Kimberly Galbraith
Can you get me into (Preferred College)?
What should I major in?
Who is the easiest instructor?
And other misguided questions I’m asked as a Community College Counselor
For the past three years I have had the pleasure of working as a California Community College Counselor at several schools from Sonoma County to Los Angeles County. I interact with students every day, offering them counseling on academics and career choices. Understandably, new students are sometimes misguided in deciding their college path.
As a counselor, I work tirelessly to direct students on the proper path and advise them on resources that will prepare them to complete their individual academic goals.
Often my advice is mistaken as law! Transitioning from the K-12 system to the college system is a daunting task for most. It’s easy for students to fall back on what they know: “follow the teachers orders”, but it’s my task to teach them how to become advocates, change agents, and leaders of their own lives. Students come in expecting to be told what to do. It is my responsibility to show them how to discover their best options. Instead of promising students that I can get them into their preferred transfer college, I educate them on the transfer process, and together we select the courses they will need to take to complete their requirements and increase their chances of transferring. Instead of telling students what to major in, I counsel them on exploring their interests, skills, and abilities, and we work together to identify a major that best matches their individual preferences. Instead of identifying the “easiest” teacher, I discuss learning styles with students and we determine what their preferred learning style is. We then work together to identify courses, class times, and instructors to best accommodate their preferred style.
Often, new students come in with many misconceptions. As counselors who work with college students, the most interesting parts of our job is assisting students with transitioning to a new independent stage in life, counseling them through obstacles they may face as they achieve their educational goals, and educating them on identifying and accessing resources.
Kimberly Galbraith is an experienced college counselor. She received her B.S. degree in Psychology from Spelman College. She then went on to pursue her master’s in counseling with a specialization in college and emphasis in rehabilitation counseling, at San Francisco State Univeristy. She has worked in several California Community Colleges in Contra Costa County, Sonoma County, and Los Angeles County. She currently works at Santa Monica College, in Santa Monica, CA as a Counselor with the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) center.