Counseling Center offers free workshops for students

Katrina Prehoda

From having weekly tests and group projects, to attending parties with friends on the weekends, it is difficult for some students to stay on track, balancing a personal life with school work.

In an effort to help students learn everything from note-taking to test taking skills to relaxation strategies, the Counseling Center, every semester, offers a series of free workshops, including one tonight on choosing a career and major.

About the workshops

“We don’t try to go over every single thing that has to do with academics, we picked out what we think are the key topics that will help people the most,” said Vikki Chaviers, a licensed professional counselor at MSU and also the person in charge of planning and organizing the workshop series.

Out of all the topics relating to academics, the employees of the Counseling Center decided on four: time management organization, taming test anxiety, steps to earning a 4.0, and choosing a major and/or career, the titles to each of the academic workshops offered.

“Up until this fall, we had something going on each month of the semester,” said Chaviers, “The first month would be time management and organization, the second month would be general study skills, the third month would be test anxiety, and the last month would be career and major type decisions. They are now condensed down to one week.”

Reasons to attend

The first meeting held on Sept. 21 drew a crowd of more than 45 people. Chaviers spoke for an hour about time management and organization and provided handouts to go along with her accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

Karina Carter, a junior in education, drove 40 minutes from her home in Nocona, Texas, to attend Monday’s workshop.

“Overall I think the workshop was helpful,” said Carter, “but it could have been more helpful if I didn’t already do everything Chaviers said.”

Chaviers recommended something simple and easy; students should map out their semester by using a monthly calendar or planner.

“By writing down things like holidays, personal things like doctors appointments, what time classes are everyday, and important information from each classes syllabus on the calendar, like tests and homework, you’re able to plan around them and set daily and weekly priorities,” said Chaviers.

Some of the 45 students attended because they would earn extra credit in at least one of their classes.

“I have most of my classes online,” said Carter. “I attended this workshop to get extra credit points for two of my classes that I have with assistant professor Lindt.”

Hearing about students attending some type of event to receive extra credit isn’t new news for Chaviers.

“We feel like most of the people are coming because of bonus points and hopefully they will learn something helpful if they are there,” said Chaviers.

Although many students attend workshops to receive extra credit points, some students attend to better themselves and their skills.

Ryan Adams, a junior in business, attended the time management organization workshop to “learn from someone else’s perspective.”

“ I was interested in attending this workshop because I wanted to learn how to better organize my life and set priorities,” said Adams. “ As a college student, it’s easy to get behind because there is always something else to be doing, whether it be on or off campus,” said Adams.

The workshops are focused at helping students coming directly out of high school transition into college life by introducing them to general study skills they may be unaware of.

“The workshop would benefit incoming freshmen the most,” said Adams. “It’s only an hour long so they can’t cover too much, which is good so they don’t overwhelm someone, but they also give helpful tips on how to manage your time so you don’t get behind.”

History/Location

The academic workshops are held in the media room on the third floor of Sundance Apartments.

Since the workshops began in late 2004, employees at the Counseling Center have had issues finding where to host their free academic workshop week. The main issue; trying to secure a room within Dillard.

With Dillard not having enough classrooms, and a large number of professors fighting over who will get the empty room up for grabs, the employees of the Counseling Center realized a few things needed to be changed.

“We started doing some academic stuff back around 2004 or 2005, but we have totally changed it up since then,” said Chaviers. “It’s completely different now.”

These changes were made in result of the counseling center acknowledging they were limiting a large group of students by only offering a two-day workshop.

“We used to do a two-day workshop and cover everything in those two days,” said Chaviers. “We decided that we wanted to do something that more people would have a chance to come to.”

When the workshops were held over a course of two days, the employees of the Counseling Center felt that it was too time consuming for students.

“We tried to cover a lot more information, but them sitting there for two hours two afternoons in a row was a little tedious,” said Chaviers.

Future plans

Starting later this semester, the counseling center will be uploading videos of the academic workshops to their website so people who are limited on time are able to watch and not worry about missing the event.

“Online videos will greatly benefit, but only if students can still somehow earn extra credit for watching them,” Carter said.

Having the workshop videos online can benefit those students who take online classes, as well as those people who live busy lives with limited free time.

“People who take everything online or do distance education can have the benefit of attending our website instead of driving here,” said Chaviers. “The first thing we try to do is get an email out in plenty of time for all the professors to put the event on their syllabus, because a lot of them give bonus points.”

Shannon Liard, a junior in nutrition, takes all of her classes online.

“I would have loved for the workshops to be online a few years ago when I first attended them,” said Liard. “I remember I had to find someone to cover my shift at work so I could go to one of the workshops, it was always difficult finding time between work and school.”

For students unable to attend the workshops hosted in September, the counseling center will be offering them again in early November during academic success week.

“We have the workshop going on now in September, then again in November in conjunction with academic success week,” said Chaviers, “that’s going to be the counseling center’s contribution.”

James Stovall, a freshman in general business, is one student who plans on attending in November.

“I was unable to make it this week,” said Stovall, “I found out about it last minute from a friend in class, so I tried to get someone to switch shifts with me at work, but was unable.”

Stovall was just one out of a group of people who were unable to attend because he was unaware of the event.

Publicity

The Counseling Center, like other departments on campus, relies on social media in order to get information on upcoming events out to students, staff, and faculty.

“We have a guy here now, A.J Perez, who is the coordinator for social media, so we get in touch with him and give him all our information and shortly before the workshop he will get it out on all the different social media,” said Chaviers.

Apart from using social media, they also do their own marketing on campus by using fliers, posters and email.

“Everybody who has a workshop does marketing for their workshop,” said Chaviers, “Mainly what we do is we try to get an advertisement out through flyers and posters and put them up on buildings all over campus.”

The only building the counseling center has trouble marketing in is Dillard.

“We usually send a PDF file or JPEG to the social media coordinator and ask him to please add it to the cycle of advertisements that come up on the flat screen TV’s in all the buildings on campus,” said Chaviers, “we tried to put fliers and things up in Dillard in the past, but it was always difficult because they don’t have enough room.”

The next series of workshops is Nov. 9 – 12 during academic success week.