Latest Publications

A Graduate Student’s Guide to School Counseling

When I first started the Counseling program at MSU last September, nerves, apprehension, excitement, and eagerness overwhelmed me. Although I was passionately drawn to the counseling profession, I walked into the program blind; not fully knowing what was ahead of me. I must admit the first few months in the program were difficult. I attempted to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, create new friendships, and apply myself in more challenging ways academically. It was scary yet provided me with the greatest learning experience. With the support of professors and peers, I am comfortable and confident now in my own shoes as a master’s student at MSU, excited to further learn and grow.

One aspect of the counseling program that I value most is the stimulating, enriching classroom environment. In each class, I am listened to with openness and respect; I feel safe enough to speak my mind and engage in critical dialogue. I do not only learn about the profession I am entering, but I am taught to be a continual learner of myself and of others. As I continue in the program, I reflect on my own development as an individual and an aspiring school counselor. It is through reflection that I gain overall happiness in my life and more confidence in my counseling skills. I believe the focus on self-awareness is an integral part of the counseling program, which is proving vital for my own growth and competence in the counseling profession.

Another essential component of the program that I believe makes for an incredible experience is the faculty. The professors in the counseling department are energetic, extremely knowledgeable, and bring with them invaluable experiences to provide more insight into the material I am learning. They teach integrity, passion, ambition, and encourage curiosity. Their support and expertise provide me direction and guidance as I continue to create and solidify my career path. My experience in the program thus far has not only led to unique, rewarding learning experiences but it has given me the opportunity to develop strong friendships. The friendships I now have with others in the program lend emotional and academic support. It is incredible to have such intelligent, supportive, humorous peers to lean on as we all embark on this journey together.

Even though I completed three semesters in the program, I believe a large portion of my experience as a future school counselor lies ahead of me. This fall I begin practicum working with elementary school students; I am beyond excited to apply what I have learned in the classroom to real-life situations. I am eager to expand my knowledge, embrace challenges, and learn about the many different hats a school counselor wears. I believe that my coursework thus far has prepared me academically and now I am just itching to get hands-on-experience in the school counseling field. My experience in the counseling program has been remarkable and I am very excited to see what the next year and a half entail!


-Maggie Walsh

Alumnae Blog Profile: Dr. Bette Simmons

As a previous graduate of Montclair State University’s MA in Counseling program, I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management at the County College of Morris. Looking back on my experience in the Counseling program, I recall an emphasis being instilled upon students to take advantage of professional experiences offered. Taking that advice, I accepted a position at the County College of Morris to begin my career. Ultimately it was this exposure that solidified my career path in higher education, as I was able to translate what I was learning in the classroom to the practical experience of the job. Being able to connect experiences in the work setting with a structured program helped me guide my career choices and fueled my desire to further pursue counseling in student affairs.

Further reflecting on the program, I attribute my counseling abilities (the skills, knowledge, and theory) as an important foundation for the start and progression of my career. Counseling skills are essential, even as a Vice President, since students come in with issues related to interactions with faculty. Working with students regarding these problems, I try to get to the heart of the issue by implementing basic counseling to figure out what is going on in their lives. Through my interactions with students I implement my counseling skills to discover who they are and what they need to do to in order to be successful.

My fondest memory from this program, although it may sound silly to some, was walking into my introductory counseling class and seeing that I was going to be taught by an African American professor. Having gone to a small school in Pennsylvania for college, I had never been taught by someone with the same ethnic background as myself. Coming to Montclair State University and having my first class taught by someone similar to myself made all the difference. Having come from a diverse community growing up, Montclair State University made me feel as though I had rejoined the society that I was raised in.

Being a graduate of a counseling program, I appreciate and take pride in the benefits of counseling with student affairs. A counseling program fosters understanding of human behavior, which is not delivered in a master program with only a higher education administration focus. If I had to do it all over again, I would make the same choice.






Reflecting on the Graduate School Experience


10366031_10202017106932573_562396689949338365_nSearching for graduate programs during my senior year of undergraduate seems as though it happened eons ago, when in reality it was just last year. Having begun my graduate studies at Montclair State University in the fall of 2013, my first year of graduate school has flown by. Enrolling in the M.A. Counseling program with a concentration in Student Affairs/Higher Education was by far the best decision I have ever made. Although I was apprehensive at first, seeing that MSU is much larger than my undergraduate school, my trepidations were quickly quelled by how warm and welcoming the campus was.


When searching for programs, I was adamant on finding a cutting-edge program with an emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism. It was important for me to find a program that was state of the art, organized, and accepting of all cultures and identities. With that being said, Montclair State University seemed to be the logical choice. Reflecting upon my first year as a graduate student, I am overwhelmingly impressed and ecstatic of all that I have accomplished throughout my time in this program. Professors within this university push you to be the best you can be and truly help you acknowledge the impact that one person can have on the welfare of an individual and society.

In addition to the excellence experienced within the classroom, I have made so many wonderful friends and have had some amazing new experiences. Going into this program knowing I was far away from my undergraduate friends was a bit scary at first. However, I have made some of my best friends here and am so lucky to have such an amazing and supportive group of peers. With small classroom sizes, it is easy to meet new people and feel right at home. Overall, the graduate program is incredibly welcoming and student-focused. Having worked on student government in the past, I was ecstatic to see we have a Graduate Student Organization to advocate for students and program graduate student events. Needless to say, my experience here for the past year has been everything I have ever wanted and more. I cannot wait to continue into my second year of the program, even though it means graduation is approaching.

-Megan Kearney

MSU Nutrition Degree Fostered Leadership & Success

Before transferring to Montclair State University, I was always very limited by my academic endeavors and was consistently faced with a series of closed doors and discouraging faculty. However, in transferring to MSU, I was delightfully supplied with a comprehensive education, innumerable opportunities for leadership and professional development, and faculty who inspired and guided each student with care.

Academically, I wanted to experience my education hands-on, not just be taught my field of study through rote memorization and PowerPoint presentations. At MSU, learning transcends the typical classroom through state-of-the-art cooking laboratories with video technology, food science labs where we develop and test our own products, private counseling rooms and valuable nutrition assessment equipment for students, and state of the art smart classrooms for students and professors to present research and information. These, along with numerous off-campus learning experiences, which MSU places such value upon, stimulate professional development and group collaboration. It is ultimately MSU’s  focus of putting the students into their field of study that has made me both excited and prepared to jump right into the field.

In my experience, the benefits of attending Montclair State University transcend academics. Utilizing every opportunity that comes to you is one thing that I have learned to do at Montclair. At an institution with such a fine reputation for research, students have the opportunity to put ourselves ahead of the curve. Having been provided with opportunities to work on research with professors whom I look up to, I discovered my own passion for research that otherwise would have gone undiscovered. As a member of the CEHS Student Advisory Committee, I have collaborated with students in other fields of study to bring together common messages and ideas. I am proud to be a part of an institution which fosters student collaboration instead of isolation. This emphasis on collaboration has personally furthered my own career, as exposure to different programs and students of different majors allowed me to find my passions for policy and education, both of which I have been able to incorporate into my nutrition focus.

With the confidence and experience that I gained participating in these and other opportunities, from opportunities like complementary leadership workshops I feel empowered. Not only did Montclair provide me with the tools that I need to be a success, but it also supplied me with overwhelming support to excel academically and professionally. My professors and advisors at MSU have encouraged me to take challenging opportunities, and in doing so I became the President of the Montclair State Dietetic Organization, and was elected to two nation positions within the field of dietetics. I have since gone to Capitol Hill twice to talk to senators and representatives from around the nation to advocate for a healthier country, and am currently working with leaders to provide students around the nation with opportunities for growth and experience within the field of nutrition.

Today, I can see that my experience has come full circle. What I once received from leaders at Montclair State University, is now what I am giving back as a leader that it has made me.  I find myself seeking to inspire students who just need someone to believe in them; a quality that my own advisors and professors bestowed upon me. I truly became the person that I am today at Montclair State University, and could not be happier with the support, education, and opportunities that I have received throughout my journey as an MSU Red Hawk!

Megan Kearney

Alexis Fissinger