The transition from high school to college or the transition from a small community college to a large university, can often be stressful for many students. Students face the challenges of living away from home for the first time, adapting to a completely new environment, and balancing academics, personal responsibilities and social activities.
Counselors at UCI recognize these challenges. Although hosting a large student body of nearly 25,000 undergraduates, UCI strives to provide the individualized attention students need through various forms of counseling services.
“Many incoming and even continuing students, often don’t realize the blessing of having so many counseling services at such a large university,” said Saamiyah Ahmed, a second-year biological sciences major.
Counseling services at UCI include learning to cope with mental health issues, planning careers and internships, creating better study habits and making informed health decisions.
“Only proper physical and mental health can ensure academic success,” said Ahmed.
These counseling services, among countless others, are provided through the Wellness, Health & Counseling Services, a division of the UC Irvine Student Affairs. Student Affairs is committed to providing programs and opportunities for students to enhance academic success.
The UCI Counseling Center, located in Student Services I, is the primary counseling and mental health center on campus. Concerns about academic performance, relationships, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems can be discussed with therapists at the center during office hours or over the phone with an on-call therapist at any other time, free of charge.
Students can be assured that all matters discussed with therapists at the Counseling Center will be kept completely confidential, unless disclosure is required by law. There are no tours offered of the center and the offices are privately enclosed with no hallways. To ensure complete confidentiality, the center upholds the policy of not providing comments about its services to solicitors at its front desk.
In addition to individual and group counseling, the Counseling Center hosts several outreach workshops, training programs, and presentations about mental health and wellness topics throughout the academic year.
Also located in the Student Services I building, the UCI Career Center is known for hosting several career events throughout the quarter. These events include on-campus work-study fairs, career fairs and career discovery panels to help students learn about various job industries.
Students can find which employers are attending career fairs and search for internships and jobs through ZotLink, the Career Center’s job search platform.
“ZotLink is similar to the platforms of Careerbuilder, Monster and Craigslist, but what makes it unique is that it’s only for UCI students and UCI alumni,” said Julie Nunez, Customer Service and Employer Relations Assistant of the Career Center. “Employers are mainly recruiting here at UCI because they want UCI students.”
The Career Center also provides appointments and drop-ins for career planning, practice interviews, graduate school preparation, resume and cover letter critiques.
UCI’s academic and personal counselors realize that while planning for careers and achieving long-term goals are important, they can sometimes be hindered by challenging academic courses.
The Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC), located on the second floor of Rowland Hall, serves to teach students study techniques through various workshops held throughout the year and connects students to tutors to help them succeed in specific classes.
“A lot of students enroll in LARC before their classes start,” said Michael Hui, a tutor advisor at LARC. “If you think you might be weak in a course, such as chemistry or math, then I’d highly recommend you enroll. Some students enroll after their first midterms, as you can enroll in LARC until week eight.”
Hui also described the differences between peer tutoring, which is free, and tutorials at LARC, which cost $100 per quarter.
“Peer tutoring is discussion-based, where students come and ask the peer tutors questions,” said Hui. “You’re expected to already know the material so you can ask the right questions and clarify your understanding. If you are completely lost and don’t know where to start, LARC is a better option, because of the structured lesson plans that the tutors provide.”
Outside the classroom, the Center for Student Wellness & Health Promotion, located in the Student Center, helps to promote a healthy campus environment through consultations and various campus programs and projects.
“We provide one-on-one consultations as well as healthy tune workshops requested by RAs, sororities and fraternities on wellness, stress management, sexual health, alcohol and tobacco and other drugs,” said Megan Greene, Department Coordinator of the center. “We also provide free and completely anonymous HIV testing for students.”
The Center also has a Wellness Room, a private, relaxing place to de-stress. The room is equipped with a Wii and several Wii sports games, a massage chair, stress meters and arts and crafts supplies.
“The only thing I regret about the counseling services at UCI is not taking advantage of them earlier in my undergraduate career,” said UCI alumna Amana Rafique. “Many of these services are not only to help students, but also allow students to give back. For instance, I was able to enroll in LARC for classes that I found difficult, but I was also able to tutor other students in classes that were easier for me.