Orange Coast College’s new Dean of Counseling Renee DeLong has defined her number one goal in her new job — providing students with the best academic guidance possible.
In addition to being new on campus, DeLong is working in a division that was restructured last year and moved from the Instructional Wing to the Student Services Wing — a move that allows additional counselors and staff. Counseling also includes TOP (Transfer Opportunity Program), the Transfer Center and the Puente Program, in addition to CalWORKs, CARE, EOPS, Guardian Scholars, Disabled Students Program and Services and the Umoja program.
DeLong said the purpose of her program is to assist a growing trend of students with exploring, creating and refining educational plans.
“Not all students may know what their education goal is and our counselors are here to provide them with tools and options and continue to encourage them to meet those goals,” she said. “Some students may be undecided — we are here to assist them. The role of the counselor is encouragement, giving hope and dreaming even bigger than the student thought possible.”
DeLong said with the high traffic of students at OCC she is looking to hire more counselors to meet the needs of the students and is hopeful the division will get the funding.
“I’m delighted to be here at OCC and excited about the new configuration where counselors are the same umbrella and students have a high transfer rate.”
DeLong comes to OCC from Cerritos College where she worked for 12 years as dean of counseling and five years as director of CalWORKS. She was also a psychology instructor and had a private counseling practice for 12 years specializing in domestic violence and child abuse.
DeLong earned an associate degree, bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree — all in psychology, as well as a second master’s degree in theology/marriage and family therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. She earned her doctorate in educational leadership and administration.
DeLong is planning to solve student complaints about counseling services on campus, including time constraints in appointments and counselors’ lack of knowledge about specific classes.
Lauren Howard, 20, a nursing major said she is close to transferring to Cal State Long Beach with 59 units but could have used more time with her counselor when meeting about her educational plan.
“It went by so fast,” Howard said.
Chris Le, 22, who attended OCC from 2014 to 2017, and is now at UCI majoring in public policy/public service, said it would have been helpful if the counselor had a general overview of specific classes.
“I understand from the counselor’s perspective that it isn’t possible to always know about every class subject, but it would be beneficial to have some information regarding the class you’re planning to enroll in,” Le said.
In response, DeLong said she hopes to meet the needs of all students and is aware that counseling is serving more students with education plans.
She also offered students some advice.
“If you find the counselor you click with stay with that counselor,” she said.
Joshua Davila, 27, a mechanical engineering major agreed with the advice.
“The counselor helped me stay motivated on my future — majoring in mechanical engineering. I have been seeing the same counselor for the past five years and he has made suggestions that went beyond academic counseling, such as other educational resources and tools.”
When not in the office DeLong enjoys baseball games, Zumba, reading, playing with her dog Coco and traveling.
She has one adult son who is in the Navy stationed in Hawaii. She loves to travel to Hawaii to visit her son and daughter-in-law and one-year-old grandson.