In this digital age of increased interconnectivity, students often turn to websites such as Reddit and RateMyProfessor to seek assistance with academic concerns. However, formal university resources such as UCSB Counseling & Psychological Services and College of Letters & Sciences Academic Advising continue to be in high demand for students. While third-party actors allow people to discuss important issues that may be difficult to talk about with official sources, traditional services offer professional assistance that many students still use today.
In an interview with The Bottom Line, second year biology major Micaiah Atkins revealed that she has utilized CAPS, Academic Advising, and Campus Learning Assistance Services. She said that CLAS, which she uses primarily for her science classes, is “super effective in helping [her] understand class material and focusing on [her] studies,” while Academic Advising has proven beneficial primarily when picking classes for studying abroad.
Although Atkins said that the concerns that motivated her to seek assistance at CAPS were not school-related, she said that she found its services very helpful for decreasing her anxiety. Elijah Root-Sanchez, a second year political science major, also told The Bottom Line that “CAPS was and continues to be extremely effective.”
“My therapist helps me sort my thoughts and de-stress, and it has been so helpful with school,” said Root-Sanchez.
Tracy Alexander, a second year communication and political science double major, said that she has gained valuable information from the Political Science and Communication websites, in addition to peer advisors. However, Alexander said it was not until recently that she had a positive experience with Academic Advising.
“When I had academic related questions as a first year, I felt like a lot of Letters and Science advisors brushed me off, telling me I had so much time to figure out majors and classes,” said Alexander. “Now that I have more specific questions, academic advisors can more directly answer my questions, which is effective.”
The UC Santa Barbara Reddit page provides a space for the UCSB and Isla Vista community to share news, ask questions, and engage in discussion. The majority of the posts are composed of questions and advice about classes as well as university events. One user, spennyd121, created a thorough post listing the pros and cons of attending UCSB, garnering a variety of responses, though mostly in support of attending the school.
All of the interviewees revealed that both third-party services and formal university resources have provided a certain degree of assistance, depending on the circumstance. Atkins said that she would recommend “CLAS for anybody in a science, writing or language class as well as Academic Advising for any student, especially those who are studying abroad or are double majors.”
“I would recommend for students to immediately go to office hours if they are struggling in a class or even just have a question on an assignment,” said Alexander. “Our professors and TAs here are so helpful, and want to get to know you, and they are very effective in the advice they give regarding specific classes.” Additionally, both Atkins and Root-Sanchez students said that they would recommend CAPS for anyone who is experiencing difficulties with their mental health or managing stress.
Alexander described her own search for alternatives to campus-based resources, saying, “I found it most helpful to talk to people in my fraternity older than me to give me guidance.” “They are in the same boat as me and they figured it out so they tend to have the most realistic and helpful advice,” said Alexander.
Essentially, students use both traditional and informal services depending on their needs. According to the students interviewed, CAPS has provided the most beneficial services while Academic Advising worked best for students with specific concerns. And as far as third-party actors, these have proven most effective when accessed through personal connections rather than general websites.