Tips to Ease College Transition Phobia
By Beth Hammett THE EDUCATOR HELPER
Beth lives on the Texas Gulf Coast where she teaches literature and writing at a local college. As a local and state award winning teacher for more than twenty years, she continuously works with students of all ages using a variety of instructional modes. Beth also presents active learning strategies and reading and writing techniques nationally in schools and at conferences. She is certified as an adult learning specialist, emotional intelligence leader, international trainer, secondary English teacher, and peer mediator. Beth's publications include a variety of books, class lessons, study guides, and more. In addition, she enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. Be sure to visit Beth's Educator Helper storefront at Amped Up Learning. As well as her Blog: http://bethhammett.blogspot.com/
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are asked tough questions about their futures: where do you plan to attend college and what is your major? Both decisions will impact students for the rest of their lives. As educators, we can help ease students fears and college transition phobias with these college tips:
1. Know the difference between an advisor and counselor.
An advisor’s role is to help guide students into proper courses rather than to plan their schedules. An advisor will say, “Yes, that course is in your degree plan and can be taken” or “No, that course is not in your degree and should not be taken.” A counselor, however, will help you determine which courses to take, assist in building a schedule that meets your needs, and follow up on your progress throughout the semester. If you have your degree plan with your semesters mapped out than an advisor will suffice. But, if you need help with reviewing pre-requisites, selection of courses, designing your weekly schedule, or more then you should seek help from a counselor. Remember, you are in charge of your educational career—do your homework!
2. Get a degree plan—
Every year the Higher Educational Board is tasked with reviewing colleges’ courses. Numbers on these reviewed courses often change. When this happens, students with no degree plans may lose course credits. For example, you take an English 1301 course. The state reviews the class then switches the number to English 1328, even though the content does not change. Without a degree plan, it is possible you will lose the credits for that class. Having a degree plan locks you into a set of courses and their numbers that cannot be discarded. Your degree plan can be changed as often as you like, and typically courses will be grandfathered in if you switch majors. Getting a degree plan will save you time and money in college.
3. Many community college and four-year public colleges are open admissions.
High school students often stress over GPAs and getting into their perfect colleges. However, most public community and four-year colleges admit all applicants as long as they are of age requirements for their states. For Texas, this is sixteen, and in Texas no General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or high school diploma is needed to attend public community colleges where open admissions means everyone has equal access to education. Often, a student confuses college admission with program entry. For example, you can apply to the four-year university as an open admission or general education major student and will receive admittance. However, if you apply as a nursing major, then you must meet the College of Nursing requirements, which often excludes many students because there are few spots available, and these are very competitive, coveted positions. The best way to enter a selective program is to: (1) establish a dual credit GPA while in high school or (2) enter as a general education or other program major to establish a high college GPA then apply to the selective college program of your choice. In other words, prove your dedication before applying to a specific college department; open admission colleges can decrease high school stress levels.
4. How important are ACT/SAT scores?
These tests often cause panic and cost parents and students additional money and time. Thankfully, many states have now dropped both standardized tests, and they are relying on personal essays, portfolio systems, open admission rules, and high school state test scores. If you are attending an ivy league school then ACT/SAT may remain important, but if you are attending local or state two or four-year colleges then the ACT/SAT is likely no longer needed. There is a myth that some administrative person is sitting behind a desk analyzing high school transcripts and courses. In reality, your high school transcripts are not reviewed by anyone in the college unless you are in a competitive bid for a high-stakes scholarship or program. Otherwise, the arrival of a high school transcript is stamped as “High School Degree Earned”, which completes a checklist of items that sends your admission file onto the next step in the process. Check the college of your choice since ACT/SAT test scores are being eliminated daily across the United States.
5. Accelerated placement (AP) versus dual credit courses is a hot debate right now!
Accelerated placement courses were the first college rigorous classes offered but over the years have been replaced by dual credit courses in many high schools. Although the AP program remains very strong, students are beginning to question whether dual credit classes are better options. Students must pass all their AP exams in order to earn credits for the specialized courses versus earning “C” or better in dual credit classes to earn college credits. When reviewing curriculum, AP Capstone units often compare in rigor to college courses. Therefore, students must personally question whether they prefer AP or dual credit. The better option may be the college course since a “C” can earn three credits versus passing a specific number of AP exams to receive any credit at all. Extra funding received by schools for AP students may drive the push to enroll students in the program, and some districts offer teachers extra incentives or pay for instructing these courses. However many high schools are paying for students’ college textbooks, and some are paying college tuitions, as well as offering two-for-one classes, along with the opportunity to obtain a two-year associates degree when receiving your high school diploma. This college cost savings measure may be too good to pass up! Be well informed and weigh your options carefully when deciding upon AP versus dual credit classes.
I have 2 great planning tools in my Amped Up Learning store to help.
Both are FREE. “Choosing a Major” and “Finding the Perfect College”, both help teachers, students, and parents work through tough questions as they near high school graduation. It’s never too late to begin planning your educational journey on the road to your dream career.
You can follow Beth on Instagram @bethhammett1
And be sure to check out her Amped Up Learning Storefront: THE EDUCATOR HELPER