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You Are Not Alone, Counseling Center is With YouOnly few students seek advice from professionals in the school
  • Lee Dong-jun, Ro Chang-hun
  • 승인 2013.11.04 23:18
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  ▲ Students  are  having  a  conversation  about  their  future  career  plan.   Even  though students  are  interested  in  their  future  careers,   they   go  through  a  rough  path  because  they  lack  effort  and  help  from  professionals.  / Photograph by  Lee  Dong-jun  
 

Autumn has come and students are busy taking classes and moving around campus. Meanwhile, a bunch of students are sitting on a bench in front of  Myungjin Hall, full of worries about their future plans and career paths. “Hey, what are you going to do if you take time off the next semester?” “I am looking for an internship, but I keep failing. This is driving me crazy.” “Me too, every company rejected me. I am considering to get some licenses.”  These days, students have so many worries about their future goals and careers, but they usually discuss these problems among themselves. According to a survey taken by the Post, over 95 percent of students discuss their future career with friends or older alumni. Very few students seek advice from university career office and counseling services. In recognition of this growing need to help students get information and advice, “Teacher and Student Accompany Seminar” was launched this semester to help students discuss their concerns and receive counseling on their career options with professors. Such program will be very helpful for students, but there should be more effort made to ensure that students are aware of this and other programs. Dongguk should attract and guide students who are interested in career counseling, since many of them earn such information from Dyeon, the representative web community of Dongguk University, or from friends. What they need is a sincere counseling with professionals or professors. 

The  programs  managed  in Dongguk can be divided into those run by the Student Career Development Center, and the Student Counseling Center. Aside from the centers, each department assigns a student to a professor for guidance. The Student Career Development Center holds several regular programs. To mention some, the Developing Career Skill Program provides a lecture or counseling to students that will be helpful for starting their careers. The One-day Interview Master can be a good example of this kind of workshop. Also, the SOS Letter of Self Introduction & Resume  is a program where a consultant gives feedbacks to a written letter of self introduction and resume. For those who have not decided on a career path, the One-on-One Career Counseling program for students without plans will be helpful, which starts with discussion and counseling for what students want to do. At the Student Counseling Center, consulting is offered for students to help with preparing their   career path, or advice that might be helpful for certain personal situations with various tests including MBTI (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and MLST (MultiLocus Sequence Typing.) Counseling with supervising professors is held between a professor and student alone, to discuss future career options and planning. Some students are able to take advantage of these programs, but the majority are not. Why do students hesitate to visit the centers and are worried to take such programs even though there are many opportunities?

Basically, there are problems that students bring to themselves. Students lack interest and desire to search for such programs. On  Dyeon, contents that discuss future careers and plans to help prepare after graduation are uploaded often, but no one suggests or recommends specific programs. Students do not know much about not only the programs in progress, but also the existence of teams in Dongguk that provides such support. Moreover, students want to have counseling with professionals, but they do not search out ways to contact them, or take advantage when such chances are offered to them. One of the employees in the Student Career Development Center said that even though they open seminars, the participating rate is low.  Of course, those who are active in participating in seminars are visible but the  number is limited. 82 percent of students answered that even though they wanted to contact professionals, they did not search for them.

   
 
  ▲ The student survey shows that lack of promotion, lack of interest from students and difficulty to approach a professor numbered the highest of the poll.  
 

 

Another problem of students is the stereotypes. 20 out of 80 students answered that they thought the process to apply for counseling is complicated and difficult. However, students can just visit the counseling department and ask for help, or apply via website. Kang Ji-young, a student majoring Business Administration said that she feels that it is a huge burden to go for counseling because she believed that some preparation and a high quality of portfolio was needed beforehand. Such stereotypes hinder students from coming in for counseling. According to a survey, 23 students out of 80 answered that they do not contact professors or professional counselors because they feel like they are not prepared enough.

   
 
  ▲ A professor awaits for students to come in for her guidance on their future, but not many students seek for professors’ consultation due to fear. / Photograph by Lee Dong-jun  
 

 
The problem is not only from students, but from the system as well. In particular, matching professors with students for guidance in each department is randomly done. There are no standards and the decision is made through the name code order in uDRIMS. According to several colleges and departments, such as the College of Buddhist Studies, Business, Engineering, and Education, the reason for this is that there is no meaning in careful matching because students do not have much information about professors before they take the class. Students do not know the professors well and vice versa. This has become a problem since students feel that it is burdensome to talk about their worries and sensitive topics to professors they barely know. Moreover, as professors do not have much information about students, counseling is not effective at all. Kim Tae-hyun, a student majoring in International Trade, said that when he met a supervising professor for counseling, he was disconcerted because he has never seen the professor even though he has attended the school for over two years. Even though he talked about his story and worries honestly to the professor, the answer that he received was not clear and slightly off topic, he thought.

To point out additional problems, the maintenance of the supervising professor system is weak, as follow-up systems do not exist. One of the professors in the Business Department said that he had an experience in which a student came to ask for counseling. Since he was the guidance professor of the student, he tried to do his best, but the sudden visit was very flustering. The professor was not prepared at all. He added that even if the student visited him with an appointment, it would be difficult to counsel the student for there was not enough information of the student. The absence of after-management has resulted in difficult times for both professors and students. Moreover, there are several issues within the campus. The school is facing difficulty in delivering the latest messages to the students. Although the Student Career Development Center is utilizing diverse methods to spread program information by sending KakaoTalk notices, e-mails, posting on Facebook and on the school website, it is still insufficient to grab the attention of the students. An employee who directs the on-campus recruitment for programs at the Student Career Development Center said, “We are in search for a better method to promote programs to students. However, due to the limitation on uploading numbers, there are difficulties in informing the students about our programs.” In addition, there is no employee in charge of promoting the whereabouts of upcoming programs within the campus, leading to less effective publicity. Also, there is a lack of proximity to the students since offline efforts to inform the students about student counseling are rare. Fliers are given to the students in front of the escalator only in the beginning of first semester. This is not enough to grab any attention. The Post surveyed 124 students on whether they knew about the existence of such programs and 120 students claimed that they did not.

Moving on, the shortage of consultants is another big issue. The Counseling Center is one of the places which allows students to meet with consultants. They even provided MLST as an aptitude test for freshmen. However, as there are currently only three consultants available, arranging a private meeting for individual counseling is very difficult. Like the Counseling Center, the Student Career Development Center also has problems regarding the number of consultants. Unlike the Counseling Center, the Student Career Development Center provides online reservations. Nonetheless, the time slots available for students are limited with just four consultants. Some students are not able to reserve the time for a meeting due to overlapping schedules with another student or classes. In its reportage of the problem, the Post interviewed a student who claimed the difficulty to schedule a simple meeting with a counseling consultant. Lim Gwang-yoon, a sophomore in the Department of Korean Language and Literature mentioned that he had troubles in speaking to a consultant regarding his studies and future plans. He said that he wanted to speak in depth about his situation, but no consultant was available.

Another issue is the lack of improvement. There are limited financial support that each facility can utilize in enhancing their operations on campus. This limits the possibility of increasing the number of consulting programs, causing the school to merely maintain its current position. There are no effective methods in increasing student participation which is necessary to further develop these programs. Not only are there no creative programs attractive enough to gather students, but also no assurance that students would be willing to participate in the new program. The Student Career Development Center has supported many programs which are not well-known among the students. The first thing the faculties consider when opening a seminar is participation rate, rather than financial issues. This is because of the low overall participation of students in programs which have been offered.
There have been few programs which successfully recruited a lot of students, but were all short-term or one-time events. For instance, the “Youth Cafe” had its own uniqueness as it was operated by the senior professors known as the “prince,” which was very successful in gathering hundreds of students on a weekly basis. Each “prince” was capable of counseling students, read their Chinese horoscope and so on. Apart from the “princes,” they also invited external personnel to open useful lectures for the students. Despite its five months of success, the department which sponsored the cafe shut down, ending the rally with no further plans to revive in the future.

   
 
  ▲ Career development programs provided by Career Development Centers (CDC) in Ewha Womans University are successful with a high degree of interest from students. / Extracted from Enews Today  
 


With such issues and problems, the school must now look in other directions to gain ideas in increasing student participation. For one, Ewha Womans University promotes student career development programs by setting up Career Development Center (CDC) offices in the lobbies of the various colleges.
The CDC is placed within the lobbies of  ten colleges and each office provides necessary information that students of certain departments would need. Four professional consultants stay in their position allowing one-on-one counseling in every office. Also, they provide feedbacks to the students, inspiring them to constantly participate in the program. This was a huge success, as over 600 students participated .

In addition, Sookmyung Women’s University promotes supervising programs by connecting each and every student with an guidance professor that he or she would like to talk with. Unlike Dongguk University, the students are able to choose whoever they want without any limits in number. One of the most attractive ideas is that most conversations with the professor is done through any media the students are comfortable with. According to Song Yoo-jin, an employee of the Student Service Team, in charge of the supervising program, students can choose their professor online by leaving a comment on a blog under the preferred professor. Then, either through sns, e-mail or Sook Myung students’ community website, the students could ask questions regarding any problems that they might face. Through this easy way to communicate and interact with a professor of their choice, the number of participating students is rising.

When looking for the right university to learn from, Korea University of Technology and Education cannot be forgotten as they have scored number one on National Customer Satisfaction Index in April, 2013. According to Jang Byung-il, an employee of the Student Support Facility, because they are in the suburbs and do not want to avoid falling behind with others, they provide as much support as the students need. The school opened a job cafe on campus to provide up-to-date employment information to students. They also utilize the club union as well as the student union to promote any programs in the campus, and unsurprisingly, it has been very successful, bringing in 300 to 400 students whenever programs are held.

As a public promotion, currently Yonsei University, Ewha Womans University, Sungkyunkwan University and Korea University are developing applications to promote any school programs that are helpful to students. Dongguk University is also planning to launch an app named “Dong-ari” which will provide more support in promoting programs. It is true that Dongguk University is trying their best to provide guidance to students to the right path for their future, but there is a need to improve the amount of financial support for these programs, as well as the efforts made to promote them. Through considering how other universities overcame their difficulties and limits, Dongguk University will also be able to improve the situation. Although many students are concerned about their future, they tend to be shy in expressing their opinions. It is necessary for the university to create infrastructure to support students in need and to actively participate in helping students on campus.

Lee Dong-jun, Ro Chang-hun  jack222@dongguk.edu, kazimiar@dongguk.edu

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