By Miss Trina Grace L. Pahilanag
Psychometrician-Guidance Paraprofesional
Student Affairs and Services Office, JBLCF-Bacolod

(This article features some of the best practices of the Student Affairs and Services Department of JBLCF-Bacolod at the height of the pandemic, which started in March 2020.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many areas of life, from working conditions to freedom of movement to the fundamental aspects of our daily living. It is undeniable that education has been one of the sectors disrupted by the crisis, affecting learners and teachers worldwide (UN, 2020). Many agencies all over the world have started a crisis response to lessen the pandemic's negative effects on schools. This reaction entails, but is not limited to, curriculum updates, the provision of infrastructure and technology resources, changes to the academic calendar, and policies for the delivery of instruction and evaluation. These changes pushed educational institutions to switch to entirely online instruction (Gonzales et al., 2020; Kapasia et al., 2020).


The move of colleges and universities around the country to online instruction has been overwhelming. The transition from face-to-face teaching to more indirect methods has forced schools into a flow of learning full of complexities and limitations (Rasmitadila, 2020). Closing schools, not having the necessary tools to engage in classes, being unable to access internet resources from home, and being unable to leave their homes for an extended period of time have all had a psychological impact on students (Apriyanti, 2020). Concerns related to mental health have increased over time. A study conducted by Barrot et al. (2021) found that the COVID-19 pandemic had the most significant impact on the quality of the learning experience and students’ mental health. Educational leaders have tried to manage the new situation, but the human infrastructure was not ready for such an event.

All members of the academic community are now under pressure to come up with solutions to keep the learning process going despite the pandemic's potential hazards. There were educational countermeasures adapted (Toquero, 2020). The country immediately opted for online learning. Some teachers uploaded their lessons online for students to access, and some were even more innovative in using educational and conferencing platforms (Fox, 2007). These policies have transformed the educational landscape and compelled colleges and universities to establish a new standard that will nonetheless be sensitive to students' learning requirements. Additionally, there is a greater need for educational institutions to improve curriculum methods and make it more responsive to students' learning requirements even outside of traditional classroom settings.

Student Affairs and Services (SAS) is one of the departments in educational institutions that have historically played a significant part in addressing the problems, worries, and general well-being of students. The department is primarily concerned with the academic support experience for the student to attain holistic development. Hence, personnel under this dynamic department better understand the student’s needs to serve in the new normal (McCarthy2020).

For John B Lacson Colleges Foundation Bacolod – an institution geared towards the betterment of the lives of our students, this pandemic is just another circumstance to be overcome. In its focus on student welfare and development, the Students Affairs and Services continue to adjust its sails in navigating these challenging times.


This article documents the initiatives of the Student Affairs and Service Department in response to the challenges and limitations brought by the new normal. It includes the purpose, process flows, benefits from the practice, and suggestions and recommendations for further improvement of the student services provided by the school.

The 3Is Model for Student Affairs Services (Loyola, 2021)

The initiatives and programs implemented by the Student Affairs and Services Department have been anchored on the 3Is Model for Student Affairs and Services in the New Normal by Loyola, 2021. This model highlights the consideration of the 3Is – which stands for Innovation, Infrastructure, and Involvement, as SAS personnel reimagine student affairs and services in the post-pandemic world.

This model was developed by Loyola (2021) using the Constructivist Grounded Theory as a method and approach. The Online Conversations conducted by the Philippine Association of Practitioners of Student Affairs and Services (PAPSAS) have served as the author’s medium to know and listen to the current concerns and challenges faced by SAS practitioners across the country. The online conversations focused on the various experiences of SAS practitioners of respective institutions in attending to the needs of the students due to the pandemic and the migration of student learning and development to remote or online platforms.

Figure 1. The 31s Model for Student Affairs and Services in the New Normal

The data gathered from the online conversations with the Filipino SAS practitioners were processed and analyzed, leading to the documentation of the emergent themes and sub-themes. The feedback about the various issues and challenges experienced and the new approaches to delivering the programs and services have been simplified in place of the 3 Is – Innovation, Involvement, and Infrastructure. The different sub-themes are then clustered according to the appropriate response.

Emergent Themes



Issues and Challenges Experienced by the SAS Practitioners


Approaches to Delivering Programs and Services in the New Normal

Academic Concerns


Gathering of Data about the Students

Student Training Activities

Mental Health and Wellness of Students


Stranded Students

Online Behavior of Students

Job Security of SAS Practitioners


Migration to Online Platforms

Skills Development and Training

Toquero (2020) highlights emerging technologies and the utility of online activities and interactions for innovation. It can be about continuing old and usual activities delivered innovatively. Innovation encourages a sense of creativity in implementing online activities and interactions. These ingenious steps could also open opportunities for students to share their creative ideas and participate in the conduct of these initiatives.

Involvement refers to the student’s presence in online activities. This aspect may be one of the primary concerns of SAS practitioners, considering the challenges of online activities. It is important that students should be encouraged to engage and support their need to connect and lessen the feeling of isolation. Personnel involved can do this by clearly orienting them on the value of their participation and what they can gain with the engagement. Student leaders can even have active involvement by implementing exciting and quality activities to which students can relate. An increase in SAS and student leaders’ online presence is necessary to remain in the students’ consciousness.

The infrastructure pertains to the platforms used to deliver the programs and services. Keeping the online spaces safe and conducive for learning and interaction is essential. The infrastructure is also about having the systems in place, such as clear policies and guidelines to assist the students and the SAS practitioners. The appropriate infrastructure must also consider inclusion and accessibility (Loyola, 2021).

The SAS Department has applied the propositions and conceptual model to take the lead in inspiring students towards productivity and continuous development as they surpass the challenges of the new normal.

Innovative Practices Developed by the SAS of JBLCF-Bacolod

The following are the innovative practices implemented by the Student Affairs and Services of JBLCF-Bacolod since Academic Year 2020 – 2021. These are categorized into (1) Online Guidance Services and (2) Students’ Activities and Online Engagement.

Online Guidance Services

The Online Guidance Services refer to the initiatives spearheaded by the College Guidance. It includes Mental Health Awareness Campaign, Online Referral, and Online College Admission Test (OCAT).

Mental Health Awareness Campaign. One of the new activities implemented by SAS-GUIDANCE is its campaign for Mental Health Awareness. It is in celebration of Mental Health Month in October. The #JUANforMENTALHEALTH Mental Health Awareness Campaign is a week-long celebration featuring online initiatives, campaigns, and group sessions around mental health and personal development. It features initiatives that aim to bring people together and keep them in touch to foster sensitivity and a greater community’s mental well-being.

The SAS Guidance identifies two main strategies for conducting the campaign. It includes Information Drive and Group Session. The main focus of the information drive is to provide and spread knowledge about mental health. Part of it is simply the integration of mental health topics on the Guidance Bulletin Board and as posts content for the social media page of JBLCF-B College Guidance. It also includes Mental Health Services and hotlines available in the province.

Publication materials for Mental Health Awareness Campaign posted on JBLCF-Bacolod

College Guidance Facebook Page

Film-Showing was utilized in achieving its goal of raising awareness. In November 2021, the Students Affairs and Services partnered with Optimum Minds Media Production to stream the film - Click, Like, and Share - a student-friendly trilogy film that aims to educate the youth on pressing issues including bullying and AIDS/HIV, and depression.

Click, Like & Share Official Poster and Schedule of Film Streaming

Furthermore, the College Guidance also conducted a group session titled “Online Kamustahan” among first-year students. The online group session served as an avenue to have conversations with students and check their adjustment and progress with their chosen careers and online class amid this pandemic. Some online activities and surveys supplemented the awareness campaign. It includes publishing and using the Official School Mental Health Awareness Profile Picture frame for the online community and the online mental health survey: “Kamusta Ka Juan?” and evaluation of activities.

Online Kamustahan 2021 Poster                   Screenshot of the Online Group Session with BSMT 1

Official School Mental Health Awareness Profile Picture Frame

Online Referral. Another innovative step made by the SAS-Guidance Department was creating an online referral system. The purpose was to assist and support students and the faculty/teacher in dealing with absenteeism and poor student performance. The referral can direct students with concerns on academic and personal matters to guidance personnel for necessary and appropriate action and help.

Google Form of the JBLCF-B Faculty/Staff Referral Form

Referrals are done by Teachers/faculty via Google Form. The in-charge then reaches out to students through messenger and other communication means. “Acted upon” cases are then echoed to the faculty/teacher through personal and other convenient and possible communication channels.

Online College Admission Test. The Online College Admission Test, also known as OCAT, was also one of the significant steps taken by the SAS Department in responding to the limitations on admission during this pandemic. The Online College Admission Test (OCAT) implementation is aimed at those seeking entry to JBLCF-B institutions but who are not permitted to be on-site due to travel restrictions and other concerns. It was made possible through the online platform Classmarker - a professional web-based Quiz maker.

Publication Material for the Online College Admission Test and Generated OCAT Result

Interested applicants are instructed to message the JBLCF-Bacolod College Guidance Page to be accommodated. The assigned personnel facilitates the pre-admission process by providing a list of documentary and medical requirements. The applicant shall then comply with these requirements and be subject to screening. If deemed fit, the applicant shall pay the entrance exam fee through the JBLCF-B Off-campus payment channel and send a copy of the receipt to JBLCF-B College Guidance. Access links and special codes are also given to ensure confidentiality and avoid test leaks. The applicant can only access the test once and has a time limit. Results are automatically generated, and applicants are provided the next set of instructions. A total of 47 students took the online admission test during the first semester of AY 2021-2022.

Virtual Students’ Activities and Online Engagement

The other category pertains to Student Activities and Online Engagement, which includes Online Application for Clubs and Organizations, including election, Online Sport and Multimedia Competition (NOPSSCEA), and Online Assistance for Enrollment.

Virtual Student Activities. As mentioned earlier in the framework, involvement and infrastructure are essential to surpass these challenging times. The limitations brought by the pandemic have disrupted the majority of students’ dynamics. Hence, for students to still have that “college life” and anticipation, online and virtual delivery of non-academic activities has been adapted.

In coordination with the Student Activity Coordinator, student clubs and organizations, primarily the Supreme Student Government, remain actively involved as they transition their activities into an online set-up. These are when Google Forms, Communication Platforms like Zoom, and social media pages are extensively utilized. The activities migrated online with an online application for organization, Virtual Pili-anay (online election), Virtual Leadership Training, Virtual Orientation, a screening of participants for e-sports and other competitions, including NOPSSCEA, etc.

Annual Student Activities Conducted Online: Supreme Student Government Leadership

Training and Virtual Election

Online Assistance for Enrolment. SAS also managed online assistance for enrollment to supplement the Online Admission process. Students who cannot enroll on-site due to travel restrictions must contact SAS Personnel for assistance. Personnel in charge then facilitate the enrollment process, which usually takes 3-5 working days. A copy of their student form is sent within their communication channel (via messenger or email) as proof of enrollment.

Publication Material for the Online Facilitation of Enrollment for Continuing Students

Benefits Derived from the Innovations

Primarily, the online initiatives provided convenience in delivering and accessibility of the available services. With most services transitioned online, service-users were provided the ease to be catered to as they did not need to go through the traditional processes and imposed protocol during the pandemic. Students have the option to utilize the online means to be catered.

Although the interaction was limited compared to a face-to-face set-up, the initiatives implemented could still bring out the engagement and enthusiasm among students. There has been active involvement with the students with the online activities such as the Online Kamustahan, Online Sport, etc. The Online Kamustahan, one of the main activities for the Mental Health Campaign, has served its purpose of reaching out to students and caring for their well-being. Most participants agreed that the online student activities would be valuable in completing their academic, career, and personal goals and are relevant to their journey as college students.

Post-Evaluation of the Activities

This section presents the post-evaluation result of some of the activities conducted. Data were derived from the participants who responded on the online evaluation form via Google Forms.

Mental Health Check Survey

Overall Rating of Students’ Mental Health



Somewhat Good


Somewhat Poor


Not sure















In rating students’ mental health, most students reported having maintained satisfactory to excellent mental health. More than half of the students rated their mental health between Averageto Excellent, while less than 15% rated unsure, somewhat poor to poor. Each person has his/her own experience with stress and can find relief in different ways. The majority may be equipped with good coping skills and an established support system, while others may have difficulty coping, reaching out, and adjusting. Most students found the survey beneficial as this served as their tool in becoming aware of their situation and airing their concerns.

Online Kamustahan Group Session

Strongly Agree



Strongly Disagree

No Opinion/Not Applicable

The session helped accomplish my immediate objective










I received the information I needed










My questions were answered.











There was sufficient time to deal with my concerns.











The session will be valuable to me in completing my academic, career, and personal goals.










The Online Kamustahan Group Session intended for the First Year Students was one of the primary activities for the Mental Health Awareness Campaign. A total count of 487 students has answered the post-activity evaluation form. The majority agreed that the activity was valuable in completing their academic, career, and personal goals. It had sufficient time to deal with their concerns, and the session helped accomplish the immediate objective of the Mental Health Awareness Campaign.

Virtual Leadership Training and Seminar




Not at all

I felt relaxed






I was able to share feelings and ideas with the group






I find the activities effective in attaining the objective






I found the group working together






I was interested and active in the group activities






The 1st Virtual Leadership Training was conducted for Supreme Student Government student leaders during the academic year 2021 – 2022. Participants found the activity essential and relevant for their leadership endeavors. Participants agreed they felt relaxed, could share their ideas with the group, and actively worked together. They found the activities effective in attaining the objective.

Virtual General Orientation

Overall Rating of the Program


1 (Lowest)




5 (Highest)











Student Affairs and Services conducted its Virtual General Orientation for New Students and Transferees. Most attendees learned the policies and regulations prescribed by the school, understood the school’s objectives, mission, and vision, and clarified the different services offered. Overall, the majority rated the program as “highest” and found the discussed topics relevant to their stay in the institution.


The following are recommendations for further improvement and development of innovative steps.

Collaboration and Development of Institutional Mental Health Program

Universities’ mental health needs have gained significant attention (McBride, Van Orman, Wera, & Leino, 2010) due to the increasing number of mental health concerns among college students (Pedrelli, Nyer, Yeung, Zulauf, & Wilens, 2015). Free virtual services such as counseling, mental health teleconferencing, and other related online health services from representatives and professionals such as psychologists and guidance counselors must readily accessible for the students even outside the centers (Hinderaker, 2013).

The services shall not just be limited to the students but also the teaching and non-teaching personnel within the institution. Concerned departments, including but not limited to Human Resources, Student Affairs and Services, Academics Department, and Administration Department, can work hand in hand in developing a Mental Health Program for all sectors.

Integration of Online Infrastructure as Mode of Delivery

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education institutions are shifting to online learning programs. Higher education institutions in the Philippines should prepare courses and school processes for online transition should there be another epidemic breakout. For example, integrating the Online College Admission Test and Online Enrollment System as one of the options for admission is ideal even in a post-pandemic situation. It would be an added marketing tool for the institution in promoting its name to those outside the Lacsonian Community.

Although online delivery can present challenges to the school personnel, providing them with good training courses can assist them in effectively taking action through electronic delivery. The use of technology tools, program design, instructor selection, responsive curriculum, and cooperative stakeholders are important and necessary for the effective delivery of the teachings in an online setting (Barr & Miller, 2013).

Continuous Skills Development and Training for SAS and Other Involved Personnel

Being prepared and capacitated is imperative, particularly in using the modes of technology. It is necessary to ensure continuity of services for the students; thus, personnel should provide capacity-building and skills development activities. It can be initiated institutionally and through public offerings. Through those programs, SAS practitioners and other involved personnel can be more confident in handling their jobs and managing the expectations of the students and the school administration.


The author expresses immense gratitude to the following to the Administrator of JBLCF-Bacolod, Engr. Roberto Neal Sobrejuanite, for the approval and support of the initiatives; to Dr. Emeliza Estimo and the Research Department for this opportunity to share these steps taken to contribute to an innovative Lacsonian Community; to the Academic Department, Respective Deans, Program Head, and Faculty for their cooperation in the implementation of our programs; to the Head of Student Affairs and Services, Mr. Rexenel Ibardolaza for the support and leadership to the entire Students Affairs and Services Department; and the students and the rest of Lacsonian Community.


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