Sat12202014

Schools

Online guidance


Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier

Foothill's academic counseling program may offer answers with the click of a mouse

Students at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills no longer have to schedule an appointment with a counselor for an answer to an academic question. All they have to do is log on to the school's online counseling site where an answer could be a click away.

"The Online Counseling Program was started earlier this year in response to the hundreds of e-mails received from students with academic questions," said Angie Rios, a student taking online classes at Foothill, who lives in San Diego and volunteers as an assistant for the program. "Foothill College wanted to create a program that would meet the needs of its students, while providing them an alternative way of receiving academic counseling."

Foothill is known for its online programs and courses, and serves many students who never set foot on campus.

"Foothill offers about 80 course sections online," said Jerry Cellilo, a counselor at Foothill who runs the online site. "Accordingly, we have to provide online student service support for this new student population."

The basic function of the program is to share information over the Internet. This is done in the form of public message boards, where students post public messages, to which anyone can publicly respond, Rios said.

"The message forums are open throughout the year, including summer," Cellilo said. "I get about five to 10 posted questions a day. I generally get back to the posted questions within 24 hours."

The program also features a "noontime chat," in which students and the online counseling staff can talk online in a real-time conversation," Cellilo said. The online chat sessions are scheduled Monday through Friday at noon during the school year, he added.

"The response from the students has been great. We've received over 400 questions and currently have 137 active users (using the site)," Rios said. "Students can access the Web site at any time based on their own personal schedules and search through our archives of questions and answers."

If a student has a more personal question to ask, Cellilo and his staff are ready to help.

"When the information is of a personal nature, I refer the students to either stop in or call for a telephone appointment," Cellilo said. "Telephone calls are considered more private."

The program strives to be of use to all Foothill students, on or off campus, Rios said.

"A busy schedule or geographic location is no longer an obstacle," she said. "The program has made it possible for all students to receive the services that they need in order to make their college experience a successful one."

For more information or to access the online advising Web site, log on to: www.foothillglobalaccess.org.

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