Waiting for counselors takes hours


Darlene Williams

Veteran students use the computer in the veteran lounge to register for classes and do their homework

Darlene L. Williams, Reporter

Spring semester at Bakersfield College is in full force as nearly 32,000 enrolled student’s make their way around campus to their various classes. Over 600 students are veterans or dependents of veterans.

With so many students on campus, the wait to confer with a counselor can be arduous.

However, the veterans on campus have a student to advisor system in place is working for some, while others find the wait to see their counselors, exhausting.

“We have a specific path that has to be followed in order to graduate with maximum efficiency, explained student, Jeremy Bethell, who is a veteran.  We can see any counselor we’d like to; however, approval for the classes must be approved by the Veteran’s Advisor, Armando Trujillo.”

There are several steps that Bakersfield College and veterans must take in order to be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

It is imperative that a Comprehensive Student Educational Plan(CSEP) is followed precisely to ensure payment to the veterans and their dependents.

“There’s a lot of money involved. We make sure that we are in compliance with the VA and the students are on track,” Veteran’s Education Advisor, Armando Trujillo, stated.  Making the college experience as stress free as possible is the goal of BC Veteran’s Department.”

For others, the transitions required for students to connect with a counselor, does not operate so smoothly.

“It’s been good scheduling an appointment with my counselor, but financial aid is a “hot mess,”

Anthony Rodriguez said.

“I’ve had no problems getting in to see my counselor, Julian. It’s been really mellow; it goes fast no complaints. Registration days are super long, but that’s to be expected,” BC student, Jared Gibson said.

Alex Lopez, another BC student, said,” I haven’t been in to see a counselor. I only called for an appointment; it’s a long time before I can get in. The lines are so long, it’s not worth it. We’ve got lives here; it’s just not worth the time.”

Sabrina Pola, another BC student said, “I haven’t gone into the counseling offices this semester, but in the past, when I went in to try to schedule an appointment, it was so many people there I decided that it wasn’t worth it. I ended up figuring things out on my own, along with my sister who’d already graduated college,” she said.

On the other hand, the ratio of counselors to students is roughly 24 counselors to 32,000 students.

Bernadette Martinez, Office Supervisor explained that with the new system, Guided Pathways, in place the long waits to see a counselor may be a thing of the past, or at least not as demanding for the student or counselor.

Julian West, Education Advisor, optimistically spoke in favor of the GP project. ” We’re shifting to something new. A student can still see whoever he/she wants to, but Guided Pathways is based off your major.”

Meta-major counselors, assist students who are taking courses that span diverse degree programs, but but also have analogous content. They counsel with all students majoring in related fields such as health sciences, rad tech, nursing students. They should see a counselor or advisor related to that specific major,” he explained.

Affinity Groups, which are groups on campus that have similar interests and are focused on common objectives, such as: EOPS, Dreamers, African American Students or any other group can still go see a Meta-major counselor. Students however, don’t’ know what Affinity group or Meta-Major group they belong to. According to West.

“This is the message we’re trying to get out, students should know who their teams are. It just makes things easier, ” West said.

It seems that the veterans on campus have a handle on the whole process of students connecting with counselors.

“Because it’s the the beginning of the school year, the time for veterans to see a counselor is normally within seven days, but towards the middle of the school year it’s not so busy,” explained Christopher Yerena, a student worker and veteran.

“Veterans can call in to make an appointment or if they have simple questions most of their concerns can be handled at the desk,” he said.

“As far as meeting with my counselors, they are pretty transparent,” said David Arredano, a veteran.

Ruben Lira, another veteran, said, “I don’t have any problems, usually I’m a walk-in. Recently, I had questions regarding changing majors, I had no problems he saw me within a couple of days, keeping me in the loop of things to continue receiving my veteran benefits.”