Andrew J. Hedges, Assistant Director of Residence Life, Whitman College
In writing this review, I will address the following issues: how well the site fulfills its stated purpose, the depth of the site's content, the accuracy and credibility of the information presented, the ease of navigation through the site, the design/style of the site, and the accessibility of the site (how easy it is to connect and whether large, time-intensive graphics are involved).
The stated purpose of this site is "(To offer a) wide selection of documents, internet resources, referrals, and reading list, all to help you with day-to-day stresses and difficult periods in your life." The site sticks quite closely to this mission. Though it is geared primarily towards SUNY-Buffalo students, students and mental health professionals from other institutions will also find useful information here.
The site contains an amazing amount of information related to the most common problems faced by college students. Particularly excellent are the sections on adjusting to university life, coping with stress and anxiety (especially as related to academic pressures), healthy relationships (including friendships as well as intimate gay and non-gay relationships), alcohol and drug addiction, and overcoming depression. Lighter on content were the sections on coping with death/grief and body image. Some sections such as "What is counseling?", while still containing important information, were very SUNY-Buffalo specific, which might be distracting to outside users. The site contains an excellent description of group counseling and its benefits. The "Miscellaneous Stuff" section I found puzzling. It contains quotes that I, personally, found only marginally inspiring; a "politically correct" Red Riding Hood story that seemed out of place; and a section on self-confidence that could have easily been a section unto itself. The section on recommended readings is excellent and thorough, dealing with a variety of topics and including links to reading lists at other institutions. The section called "Workshops" contains SUNY-Buffalo specfic information, but also some excellent presenter's outlines that could be incorporated into programs or the curriculum at other schools. There is also an excellent compendium of Internet resources for mental health professionals.
The information presented is authoritative and helpful. Appropriate references are found at the bottoms of pages. This information is relatively stable (tips, warning signs, etc.) and therefore does not require frequent updating. Despite the temptation to let the resource sit, there were surprisingly few broken links.
I found site navigation only satisfactory. Sub-pages lacked links back to the main page which itself is only a long list of links. The site was also very plain looking, especially on the sub-pages. It lacked a consistent look and probably would not appeal to the average 19 year old eye. As a professionally oriented resource it is acceptable, though a more consistent look might add to user confidence. One benefit of plain pages is fast downloading times. There were no accessibility problems with the site when it was tested (evening, pacific time).
Overall, this site should be considered a must-have link on any counseling center web page. It offers a tremendous amount of useful information for addressing common student concerns once you sift through the SUNY-Buffalo specific information. It also provides links to numerous Internet resources for mental health professionals. This site, dressed up a little to appeal more to student tastes, could easily serve as a model for counseling center pages across the Internet.
This article should be
cited as follows:
Hedges, A. J. (1996). [Review of The Counseling Center Self-Help Home Page - State University of New York at Buffalo]. Student Affairs Journal-Online [Online], 6 paragraphs. Available: http://sajo.org [1996, December 16].
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