Counseling office relaunches live chat option

Students at Cosumnes River College now have an opportunity to chat with counselors via an online chat room on the CRC Website.

Counselor Monica Cranston and human services professor Hoyt Fong said that the counseling department has been testing an online service that would help quickly answer students’ counseling questions without having to be on campus.

The online chat room for counseling, which recently kicked off its continuation last week, can be found on the CRC website.

“Students can check the counseling page for times, schedules, and advertisements for Live Chat,” Cranston said.

Some students said they hope that the live chat will make the counseling office more efficient and easy for the students.

“I think it’d be helpful,” said Christine Garcia, a 27-year-old communications major. “I mean I’ve been at CRC for a while and the counseling office has kind of been a pain.”

This feeling was mirrored by other students.

“I think it’s really hard to get a hold of counselors on this campus, like really hard,” said 30-year-old sociology major Nick Rabon. “So if they actually use the system and it’s something that can be legitimized, then absolutely. I mean anything that helps me figure out something without having to make six appointments.”

Fong also said that this digital venture is “an extension of the services provided in the counseling office on campus.”

However, this isn’t the first time the counseling department has attempted this platform.

Cranston said that one of the issues during the trial run in the fall 2015 semester, was a limited amount of staff members.

“Before holiday break, we were running, but in January, we took two to three weeks to look at staffing and scheduling in order for the venture to be successful,” Cranston said.

“We’re totally open to any feedback or suggestions, or any new ideas for communication amongst counselors and students,” Cranston said.

“I think this will improve with time and additional staff for additional hours,” Fong said of the online chat room.

One issue that occurred in the trial run was that too many students were signing up, which caused the technology and the CRC website to crash a few times. There was also a need of increase in internet speed, according to Fong.

“There was a need of increase of staff and technology, especially when it came to speed,” Fong said.

Even with some bugs, the counseling department received an 80 to 90 percent approval rating from most students during the trial run.

Fong said the chat gives students another avenue to get answers besides just the campus site.

Cranston said that the chat  produces more access for students who are struggling and need quick help with college-related situations.

“It’s something that has become very common in the business world like online shopping, and we wanted to move forward in technology,” Cranston said.

But just because the counseling department has added this online option, it doesn’t mean that students can use it instead of a full appointment.

“It’s mostly for students who only have a quick question, but it’s not a replacement for a full appointment,” Fong said.

Cranston said that students who don’t have time in their personal schedule for a full appointment are encouraged to use it.

Although Cranston said that students can have their questions answered instantly, it is only when the live chat is in schedule. As of now, the chat is only open for one hour at a time, sometimes only once a day.

The counselors also want students to know that the live chat is in no way a replacement or option for mental health counseling.