The community college counselor: Multiple meanings, multiple realities
AuthorAcree, Elizabeth Ann, 1960-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCounselors are currently being scrutinized as to their place in a community college setting. Administrative units are questioning whether counselors are necessary, and whether they should maintain their past role. But before changes are made, the full scope of the role needs to be examined. Previous studies have concentrated on role definition, looking primarily at which tasks counselors perform and their job satisfaction. I first examine the counselor's role using a role definition format to provide a baseline of data to compare with other studies. Then I considered three other elements--intangible services, professionalization, and the bureaucratic setting--that I proposed were contributing to the uncertain position of counselors in community colleges. This is a qualitative case study of community college counselors. Personal interviews with counselors were utilized as the primary source of data. The case study institution is a large, urban, multi-campus community college. Results indicate that counselors are satisfied with their generalist role of providing primarily career and academic counseling, providing a very small percentage of personal counseling and providing a variety of other services. This is unlike the literature which suggests that counselors are dissatisfied with the generalist role and prefer a more specialized personal counseling role. The counselors in this study were frustrated by their perceived role by other groups. They felt misunderstood and unappreciated. Consequently, they searched for ways to make their services more visible and understandable. They also relied heavily on their professional status to validate their role. But rather than emphasizing their traditional professional counseling characteristics like the use of a theoretical body of knowledge or specialized training and certification, they underscored their similarity to the instructional faculty who command the highest professional status in community colleges. The counselor's role was also highly effected by bureaucratization. The very nature of bureaucracies induces human interaction that is brief and efficient, but not necessarily meaningful. Improving human interaction is where counselors need to focus their efforts, rather than dwelling on professional status. And, administrators must also consider human interaction rather than just dividing tasks and measuring the number of students served.
Degree ProgramGraduate College