Finding your way at St. John’s

St. John’s University is aware that it represents a microcosm of today’s changing world. Unfortunately for some, change is not always easy. Some may experience culture shock while others may not be able to cope with the stress and work involved in earning a degree. Fortunately, at St. John’s there are facilities that can help new students adjust to their new college life.

The University Freshman Center

The University Freshman Center, now located on the first floor of St. Augustine’s Hall (library), has been newly designed to assist incoming freshmen with “their overall transition, acclimation, and integration into the St. John’s community,” according to Dr. Nancy Kaplan, Assistant Vice President and Director of the University Freshman Center.

One of the Freshman Center’s goals as described in their mission statement is that they plan to “go the extra mile” to make sure that first year students receive all the help, support, and “individualized attention they need” in order to become successful and feel that they belong to the community of St. John’s. The way the Freshman Center plans to accomplish this is through the Developmental Advising Model, a close student/advisor relationship intended to aid students with overall goals and issues. All freshmen will be assigned to one of the twelve full-time administrators available at the Freshman Center. The advisor will meet with their students individually during the first four weeks of the Fall 2001 semester, which begins September 5th. It is at these meetings that both the student and advisor will be able to ask questions and talk about important issues like financial aid, schedules, extra-curricular activities, minors and creating personal and career goals through advisement.

Advisors plan to meet with their students three times per semester. Other ways advisors plan to interact with the students are through class presentations, residence hall meetings, and organized projects where freshmen can meet other freshmen.

“Advisors will be there when they [students] need us, not when we’re only available,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan emphasized that the Freshman Center is about “building relationships.” She went on to explain that relationships are important in helping the student find a comfort zone in “the little town” of St. John’s University, and that it helps the adjustment when the student has a partner and is not alone.

“It’s very important that the students feel comfortable they are going to succeed,” said Jacqueline Grogan-Finnegan, Associate Director of the Freshman Center.

Helping students succeed is what the University Freshman Center is all about.

The Counseling Center

The Counseling Center, located in Marillac Hall room 130, is designed to help students with any problem, whether it be personal problems at home or school, academic problems, decision-making, or diagnosing a learning disability.

The staff, four full-time counselors and one graduate assistant, treat all situations with 100% confidentiality and their services are free. Each situation is looked at with an open mind and every case is treated individually to find a solution and possibly establish a friendship.

The Counseling Center also focuses greatly on education. They conduct many meetings during each semester during the common hour on such issues as overcoming procrastination, time management and stress management. Dorothy Schmitt, Assistant Director of the Counseling Center, suggests that students be aware of all the facilities and informational seminars offered.

The best advice that Schmitt can give to new students is to get involved.

“The social part of school is just as important as the education,” Schmitt said.

The Counseling Center is available for appointments either by stopping by the office or e-mailing [email protected] Emergency counseling is also available should the need arise by either stopping in the office or calling them at (718) 990-6384.

The Career Center

The Career Center’s purpose is to help all students in their area of study. They offer information on professions as well as paid internships and full-time and part-time jobs. Part-time job positions are posted on the bulletin boards located on the first floor of Marillac Hall, in room 132.

As part of their work, they hold informational meetings, an annual Career Fair, train in interviewing skills and proofread resumes, all in order to help students enter the working world.

The myth about the Career Center is that it is only for juniors and seniors. According to advisor Sonya Lorain, “It’s for everyone.”

The Career Center helps assist undecided majors choose which major is best for them by the time that they must declare one by using an assessment test that is offered to students. After the test is taken, an advisor sits down with the student and his/her results to help guide them towards possible majors or professions based on these results.

“It’s important to know that it’s a process and it’s very time consuming because you have to do research and talk to people and not many people want to take the time out,” Lorain said.

Lorain suggests that if undecided freshmen can not take the time to do the assessment test, they get involved in campus organizations even if sacrifices have to be made.

“Though you may not like the environment or other things you have to do, you’re exposed to the field,” said Lorain.

Help Is Out There

These three centers are all integrated to make sure that the right people are there to assist however necessary. Though at times one may feel alone to deal with the drama of financial aid, selecting classes, or depression, services are offered by educated and experienced professionals to guide students to success.