COUNSELING AND TESTING

The Office of Counseling and Testing (OCT)  helps students enhance their academic and personal well being. We support the educational mission of Francis Marion University (FMU) by helping students cope with college and life pressures that threaten persistence in college and enhance or learn skills that optimize personal effectiveness.

We also support the academic goals of FMU by coordinating testing services for the University (e.g., testing accommodations for students with disabilities, administering exams such as CLEP, MAT, and proctoring exams for those in distance education courses).

The Office of Counseling and Testing is located in the Education Foundation Building
adjacent to campus (the building faces U.S. Highway 76 and the street address is 121 S. Evander Drive).
Student Health Services is also located in this building.

Services

What is counseling?

For most students, the college experience becomes a significant period of transition. Although transitions are often exciting, they also require change and adjustment (and this can be stressful). The Office of Counseling and Testing offers services for students who may be experiencing difficulties in their personal lives. The types of personal issues commonly addressed include depression, sexuality, stress management, depression, relationship issues and academic problems. You don’t need to have severe emotional problems to benefit from our services. Many students use counseling to expand their personal growth and development.

The counseling relationship differs from both social friendships and the patient-physician relationship. Unlike friends, therapists are able to be objective; they are not involved in your daily life. Unlike most physicians, therapists don’t give specific advice or tell you what to do. Instead, they serve as a skilled listeners who help you clarify issues and practice techniques to effectively cope with problems.


Make an appointment

Individual counseling services are generally offered to students on a short-term basis, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the nature of students’ concerns. We usually schedule one 50-minute session per week–at a time that you agree upon with your counselor.  Students who have problems that require long-term counseling are sometimes referred to other agencies or resources that can better meet their needs.  To make an appointment, please call 843-661-1840.


Crisis Situations

Emergency counseling is available on a drop-in, first-come-first-served basis.

Counselors are typically available from 9 am to 5 pm, M-F. Our summer hours are 8 am to 5:15 pm, M-Thursday.

If you are experiencing an emergency situation and the office is closed, please contact FMU’s Campus Police (661-1109) or go to the emergency room of your nearest hospital.

You may also contact the crisis line for Pee Dee Mental Health at 1-800-808-4796.


Policy on Confidentiality

Our office maintains a strict policy of confidentiality. We don’t tell anyone that you’ve come for counseling unless you give us written permission to do so. Our therapy notes are not part of your college record. There are some exceptions to confidentiality. These include:

• Threats of violence or suicide

• Suspected child abuse

• The need to share limited information with Student Health Services

When and Where to Test

The testing center is located in the Education Foundation Building at 121 South Evander Drive, Florence, SC 29506. The building is to the west of the main campus and faces Highway 76 (just in front of the athletic complex). Please call 843-661-1840 for more informaion.

All tests are scheduled by appointment (with the exception of the SAT On-Campus and the ACT On-Campus which will be given on set testing dates). The earliest possible time available for a testing appointment is 9am and the latest possible testing appointment is 2:45pm, Mon –Fri (Mon-Thurs during the summer schedule).


Tests Administered

ACT On-Campus – $50

CLEP $80 (plus a $16 proctor fee)

DANTES – $80 (plus a $16 proctor fee)

Distance Ed – $16

MAT – $66

SAT On-Campus  $58


How to Pay

All proctoring fees for Francis Marion are to be paid in the Cashiers office, located in the Stokes Administration Building on the Francis Marion University campus. When examinees arrive to Counseling and Testing, a copy of their receipt will be needed before testing begins.

*The $80 for the CLEP will be prepaid with the testing company.  Examinees will bring a registration ticket from CLEP on the day that they test.  The $16 proctor fee is to be paid in the Cashier’s office before testing.

* The $80 DANTES fee is to be paid with a certified check, money order, or with a credit card. The $16 proctor fee is to be paid in the Cashier’s office before testing.

The Office of Counseling and Testing coordinates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities who are attending Francis Marion University.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the office at least two weeks before starting classes at Francis Marion University.

Eligibility for Accommodations

Documentation Requirements

To qualify for accommodations, a student must provide appropriate documentation from a qualified health services provider (i.e., physician, licensed psychologist). Psycho-educational evaluations for Learning Disabilities and for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) should be current, usually within the last three years. If a student has a Summary of Performance (SOP) from high school, it should be included with the primary documentation.  An Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan from high school cannot serve as the primary documentation. It does not typically provide adequate information. A physician’s letter is not sufficient to document ADHD, nor can medication be used to document a disability.

Documentation should include a diagnosis, an explanation of the disability’s effect in an academic setting, and recommendations regarding accommodations. Quality documentation will include the following:
  • The credentials of the evaluator(s).
  • A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
  • A description of the diagnostic methodology used.

For learning disabilities, methodology should include a test battery with standard scores and/or percentiles reported. The battery should include the following (no brief or screening tests):

  • Measure of intelligence (e.g., WAIS).
  • Measure of achievement (e.g., WJ-R-ACH).

For ADHD, methodology should include a continuous performance test (CPT) or set of norm-referenced behavior ratings from the student, and preferably a parent, spouse, teacher, or significant other.

 A description of current functional limitations.
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability
  • A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications.
  • Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.

Documentation Review Committee

Each student’s documentation is presented to the Documentation Review Committee (DRC) at Francis Marion.  The DRC meets approximately once a month and is responsible for determining whether a student’s documentation is sufficient for establishing a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If a student’s initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, the DRC will identify what is missing. The cost of obtaining additional documentation is borne by the student. A letter of approval or denial will be sent within three weeks of a student’s documentation review. If approved, a student should make an appointment with the Director of Counseling and Testing to set up accommodations for the academic year. Accommodations will not occur until this meeting has taken place.  If eligibility is denied, a student may appeal to the ADA Compliance Coordinator at Francis Marion (Dr. Charlene Wages, Vice-President for Administration, 843-661-1140).


Setting Up Accommodations

After a student’s eligibility has been approved by the Documentation Review Committee, an appointment should be made with Dr. Rebecca Lawson, Director of Counseling and Testing. You can reach her at 843-661-1841.

Appropriate academic accommodations will be agreed upon at this meeting (based on the intake interview and a review of the documentation supplied by the student). The student will be asked to complete several forms, including:

  • Academic Accommodations Agreement
  • Consent to Release Information
  • Authorization for Release of Accommodations Letter (student will decide the method of delivery for notifying professors of accommodations)
  • Voter Registration (optional)

Accommodations Process

Notification of Professors

At the beginning of each semester, the Office of Counseling and Testing will write a faculty notification letter and will address it to each of the student’s professors. The letter verifies registration with the office and lists the accommodations a student is eligible to receive. The letters are confidential and do not reveal the nature of a student’s disability. Letters are mailed to professors the day before classes begin. For students who deliver the letters themselves, the letters can be picked-up on the first day of class (or earlier if the student gives advance notice).


Confidentiality

A student’s disability documentation is confidential. In order to provide most accommodations, it is necessary for the Office of Counseling and Testing to notify professors that a student is eligible for disability accommodations. In most cases, this involves the sharing of a student’s name and disability-related needs, not the specifics of the disability.

Disability documentation is housed in the Office of Counseling and Testing. It is rarely shared with other university staff, unless the student has given written permission to do so. The documentation could be shared on a “need to know” basis in the case of an emergency or if there is a formal investigation of a complaint.


Student Responsibilities
A student is expected to speak and work directly with each professor involved in the provision of accommodation(s). For example, if a student is eligible for alternate test-taking conditions (i.e., extended time, distraction-free environment), the student should let his or her professor know about the intention to use the accommodation(s) at least one week before a scheduled test. If the student does not provide timely notice, the professor is not obligated to provide the accommodation.
A student should meet with the Director of Counseling and Testing periodically to discuss academic progress. Please notify the director immediately if there are any problems in securing approved accommodations.

Types of Accommodations

Accessible Residence Halls

Residence hall rooms with varying degrees of accessibility are available. Reasonable efforts are made to accommodate students with disabilities who wish to live on campus. Students with disabilities must follow the sign-up procedures established by the Housing Office.

Students must provide documentation from an appropriate professional indicating diagnosis and the need for housing accommodations.For further information, contact the:

Housing Office at (843) 661-1330

Office of Counseling and Testing at (843) 661-1841.


Accessible Computers

If further accommodations are necessary (e.g., adaptive software in additional locations), students should submit their requests to the Director of Counseling and Testing.


Handicapped Parking Permits

After the student’s vehicle has been registered, the handicapped parking placard can be obtained from the Office of Counseling and Testing. The placard must be displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle whenever parked on campus. Students must meet eligibility requirements and must get a new placard at the beginning of each semester.

To obtain a handicapped parking placard: 1) The student must present the documentation outlined in the Eligibility for Services section. 2) The student must comply with South Carolina State Statute 56-3-1960 regarding eligibility for special consideration. 3) The vehicle must be registered on campus and display a FMU resident or commuter student decal. Students needing special parking consideration, such as pick-up or drop-off at crosswalks in front of buildings, should present these needs to the Office of Counseling and Testing so that Campus Police can be notified. At no time should a crosswalk be blocked for periods longer than necessary to pick-up or drop-off a student with disabilities.


Interpreter Services

Requests for interpreters should be submitted to the Office of Counseling and Testing as early as possible (e.g., right after pre-registration). Any schedule changes must be communicated to the Director at least three weeks before the beginning of classes. Counseling and Testing will maintain a list of certified interpreters and will work with resource agencies to obtain a qualified interpreter.  If a non-certified signer is acceptable to the student, he/she may be used.


Note Takers

The Office of Counseling and Testing will help students in obtaining note takers, although equal responsibility is required on the part of the student. Carbonless paper and photocopying services are available to students working with note takers.

Suggestions for Obtaining a Note Taker :

You may approach a student in your class and explain that you would like to share notes with him or her. If you do not feel comfortable approaching other students, you may approach your professor and ask him or her to make an announcement in class. The announcement can be as simple as this: “A student in class needs help with notetaking this semester. This is a paid position. Please call the Office of Counseling and Testing at 843-661-1841 if you are interested.”

Our office can then screen applicants to see if they are in good academic standing with the university. Notetakers will be paid $7.00 per hour for every hour that they are in class with you. After the first week or two, you should approach the professor to see if the notes you are receiving are adequate for the class. Any problems with the note taker must be addressed to the Office of Counseling and Testing immediately so that we may fix the error or find a new note taker.


Personal Care Attendants

Personal care attendants assist individuals in completing daily living skills such as grooming, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication monitoring, maintenance of personal living environment, lifting or turning pages, and transporting/escorting. The cost and maintenance of the services of a personal care attendant are the responsibility of the student. To determine if a personal care attendant (PCA) is needed, students will need to assess their skills and abilities with their medical provider, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or case manager.

The Office of Counseling and Testing is willing to advise students on the recruitment and hiring of PCAs. For example, the office can provide a location for students to interview prospective PCAs and can generate ideas on how to advertise the position on campus. Students with disabilities are the employers and set the wages, hours, job duties and conditions for employment. As such, students are expected to create their own fliers and applications for the position. For classroom and general campus assistance, some students will find it helpful to recruit and hire other students. For more involved personal care needs, students can make arrangements through agencies or private contacts.


Priority Registration

When students demonstrate that they have met with their faculty adviser, the Director of Counseling and Testing will authorize priority registration on an as-needed basis.


Test-Taking

Students eligible for test-taking accommodations should notify their instructors at least one week prior to a test. If a professor is unable to provide a requested test-taking accommodation, or if other services are needed such as the use of a reader or scribe, the Office of Counseling and Testing will work with students to provide necessary accommodations. For example, our office may be able to proctor the test for you. Students found cheating on exams while using testing accommodations will be subject to the same disciplinary process and sanctions outlined in the Student Code of Conduct in Francis Marion’s Student Handbook. The Student Conduct Code applies to all FMU students; students with disabilities are no exception.


Tutoring Services

Free academic assistance is available from the Campus Tutoring Center (661-1675) and the University Writing Center (661-1528). Contact the Director of Counseling and Testing if you need assistance working with departments to secure a personal tutor.

Outpatient Services

The Office of Counseling and Testing offers services to students who are concerned about their use of alcohol or other drugs.  The office offers free, confidential assessments to help students determine the nature and extent of their alcohol and other drug use, and the impact of this use on their well being.


Referral Services

While outpatient services can be of benefit to many students, some individuals will need more intensive treatment (i.e., intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment). The Office of Counseling and Testing will refer students to the appropriate level of care based upon the results of a clinical assessment. Students who are referred to services outside of this office will be responsible for any costs incurred.


Prime-for-Life Program

The Prime-for-Life group teaches students the difference between responsible use of alcohol and irresponsible or dangerous use. It is designed to help students make appropriate choices about alcohol or other drugs during their university experience. Issues such as abstinence, social use, driving while impaired, the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs, and potential consequences of irresponsible behavior are explored and discussed.

The Prime-for-Life Group may be mandated for students who break the Francis Marion University Alcohol and Other Drug Policy. Students are charged for a workbook used in the group, but the group itself is free to students. The cost of the workbook is $15.00. The group is open to all FMU students and typically runs twice per semester.

For students who are convicted of a legal violation, i.e., Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the Prime-for-Life Group may be approved by the courts for Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). Please contact the group coordinator, Yulaundra Heyward, for more information (843-661-1842).

Dr. Rebecca Lawson

Director of the Office of Counseling and Testing, Part-time Lecturer in Psychology

Office: EFB
Phone: 843-661-1841
rlawson@fmarion.edu

Yulaundra F. Heyward

Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing Center

Office: EFB
Phone: 843-661-1842
yheyward@fmarion.edu