Ithaca College will launch an ambassador program sponsored by the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services that aims to help incoming freshmen with their transition into a college environment.
The program was originally proposed by sophomores Kristin Butler and Sarah Horbacewicz, senators of the Student Governance Council Class of 2020, after Horbacewicz struggled with booking appointments with CAPS during her freshman year. The CAPS program is not intended to be a substitute for traditional counseling services; rather, it is meant to be another way for CAPS to provide systems of support for students looking for help. Deborah Harper, director of the Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness, pointed out that not all students need the same support systems. Rather than the traditional counseling that a CAPS counselor could provide, a student might need a person to text or to give tips on managing anxiety. CAPS ambassadors will be given resources during their training sessions so that they can inform their advisees about workshops or just provide someone to listen to.
Upperclassmen who have experienced the transition from high school to college more recently than faculty and staff may be able to better share their wisdom about this transition. These ambassadors can serve as a friendly face around campus and around the Ithaca community, which could enhance the freshman experience.
The college transition is a daunting one. Having an older student to ask for help with even the smallest questions or concerns is a wonderful way to provide a quick and easy resource for students. Through this program, ties among groups in the campus community will be made, making for a broader, more inclusive community. By putting energy into strengthening the ties of the community, incoming freshmen will have a better first-year experience than those in the past, and the blending of social circles will also benefit upperclassmen.
Overall, this program is a great step toward ameliorating the problems the campus community has had with CAPS in terms of wait times and lack of resources for students, while also creating a broader campus community. Horbacewicz and Butler should be commended for their proposal, and CAPS must be encouraged to build this program up as much as they can.