“Our counseling center has been through significant challenges since 2007,” Flynn said in March. “We updated to make sure that our policies were in congruence with IACS standards.”
IACS recommends a counselor-to-student ratio ranging from 1-to-1,000 to 1-to-1,500 for universities of Tech’s size. This ensures any student can find time with a counselor and counselors have time left for other functions of the center, such as outreach and education.
With only 10 counselors in 2007, the ratio of students to counselors was about one counselor for every 3,000 students, well outside the IACS recommended range.
In its field visit report, IACS said it was still concerned the center had too few counselors for the size of the school. Tech’s ratio is currently about 1:1,600 students.
The field visit report mentioned the counselors were overworked, with two working more than 40 hours per week.
“They worry that my staff works too hard, that they see too many students,” Flynn said. “They’d like to see at least 20 counselors.”
Flynn said the university administration has been very supportive in the goal of providing 20 counselors at Cook in the next few years.
“We added one more position this summer, and we just got tentative budget approval to add one more,” Flynn said.
University spokesman Larry Hincker confirmed the center was given several new positions. He said mental health services is a priority for the university.
“If the university sees a need, it will invest in it,” Hincker said.
But Flynn said unfortunately the need for more counselors is almost unending.
“Even if we had 30 counselors, I am sure that we could keep 30 people very busy,” he said.
Flynn said the center will continue to grow and change to address the needs of a changing student body.
“The student body of today is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago — their exposure to counseling has changed as well,” Flynn said. “It’s a moving target. The needs of students change every year, and it’s always a new challenge.”