Volume I, Issue 1 | January 27, 2015

Not a Surprise: Counseling and Student Success


“I can’t say that I was totally surprised,” says Health Sciences Counselor Janet Robinson. “It was just great to see numbers supporting what SMC counselors believe about the impact of our work on students.”

SMC’s Institutional Research recently conducted a study which threw up some not surprising but very gratifying data for the counseling department.

Take this for example: A large majority of first-time freshmen (87%) and reverse transfers (76%) received counseling services by the end of their initial fall term (“reverse transfers” refer to students who transfer from four-year universities to community colleges, most often for financial reasons). And those that did go to a counselor then, increased their odds of persisting through a coming spring and fall semesters by over 200%!

“Students who go on to success often say that what made the difference between staying in school and dropping out was making a connection with one person who mentored them – and very often this is a counselor,” says Laurie Guglielmo, Counseling Department Chair.

Brenda Benson, Dean of Counseling, credits a lot of this success to strong support from SMC as an institution – “more so than other community colleges,” says Benson. Also, she says, within the department there has always been a genuine commitment to innovation and student success. The data backs up what they have always known anecdotally.

“While the evidence indicates a clear relationship between counseling contact and success for first-time SMC students, the relationship is correlational and does not imply a cause-and-effect between meeting with a counselor and success,” says Hannah Lawler, Dean of Institutional Research. “Still, the data favorably supports the finding that students who meet with counselors are much more successful than students who do not.” As for the counseling department, the results of this study has come as a big boost.

“It definitely lets us know we’re moving in the right direction!” says Benson.