September 1, 2014

How Does One Prepare for College?

Many people find the idea of going to college intimidating, even frightening. You may feel overwhelmed by all the different things required for admission, or you may even have doubts about your ability to succeed in college. Guess what? You are not alone! Those feelings are common to all beginning students, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The good news is that there are things you can do to prepare yourself for school and lessen your anxiety.
College is the road to knowledge, a new career, and a better future for you and your family. It’s more than a destination, though. It’s a journey! College will help you learn how to learn so that you can continue adding to your knowledge and skills for the rest of your life.

Step 1 – Develop Your Educational Plan
The first step in going back to school is to make a plan. This plan will serve as your road map for getting from where you are now to your ultimate educational goal. The counselors in your Educational Opportunity Center can assist you with this process. They have the tools and information to help you evaluate your personal and career interests, choose a major, and find an accredited school that best serves your needs. If you did not finish high school, they can also help you get your G.E.D.

Step 2 – Begin the Admissions Process
Once you have your plan, it’s time to apply for college. Most colleges publish their admissions requirements on their Web sites, but if you prefer to view hard-copy materials, EOC counselors can help. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’ll be happy to get it for you!
The key is finding out what is required from the school you are interested in attending and getting it all submitted by the application deadline.
At a minimum, most schools require:
• A completed admissions application – Each school’s application is different. Some schools allow you to apply on-line; others require you to apply by mail.
• Placement test scores – (Also known as SAT, ACT, ASSET or COMPASS scores). Each school’s placement score requirements are different. Some accept only the ACT or SAT; others (mainly community and technical colleges) will also accept the ASSET or COMPASS. Some schools have a minimum cutoff score for admission; others just require that you have scores.
• Proof of immunization – Most often states require that students provide proof of immunization for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Check your school’s catalog to see if they have such a requirement. If so, proof of immunization can be obtained from your doctor or local health department.
• High school or G.E.D. transcripts and/or previous college transcripts – Federal privacy laws require you to sign for release of official transcripts and most schools charge a minor processing fee. Contact your high school or previous college to see what their policy requires.

Step 3 – Schedule a Placement Exam
If your placement scores are more than five years old, you didn’t do as well as you’d have liked, or if you’ve never taken the SAT, ACT, ASSET or COMPASS exam, you will need to get with an EOC Counselor to schedule a placement exam.
Keep in mind that the purpose of a placement test is to determine your current level of skills in reading, writing, and math. The scores you make will enable your EOC counselor to put you in the courses you need in order to progress and be successful (in other words, not so easy that they waste your time and not so hard that you can’t grasp the material).
There are Web sites that provide information on the various placement tests, but your best resource is the Educational Opportunity Center. Your EOC counselor has study guides and materials to help prepare you for the exam. EOC also conducts periodic workshops to help you know what to expect. Contact an EOC counselor or check the calendar of events section of this web site for a schedule of these workshops.

Step 4 – Schedule an Advising Appointment
It can be a little confusing trying to decide upon a schedule your first semester. There’s so much to think about – which courses have prerequisites, which courses require labs, how do you make sure that you only take courses you need, how do you make sure you don’t overload yourself.
There are also some tricks of the trade that could save you time. For example, did you know that if you have participated in formal workplace courses or programs either through the military or through a recognized training provider, you could be eligible to apply what you learned to a college degree? Many schools award credit for prior experience, military service, or for exams such as CLEP and Microsoft User Specialist.
Your EOC Counselor can help answer all these questions and more, and they can arm you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your educational future. After all, your future is your responsibility!

Step 5 – Attend an Orientation Session
Most schools have orientation sessions for new students; take advantage of them! Not only will they help familiarize you with the policies, procedures, and services of the institution, but they give you the opportunity to meet other first-time entering students, faculty, and key staff who can help you throughout your academic career.

strong>Step 6 – Enroll
Pay attention to enrollment dea

Step 7 – Attend
Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is showing up. Nowhere is this truer than in college. It’s very important that you attend class regularly and show up on time (or better yet, early!).
Your instructor may or may not have an attendance policy. If there is one, it should be listed on your course syllabus. Pay attention to attendance policies, because sometimes grades are tied directly to attendance (like at MSCC).
Even if there is no formal attendance policy, it doesn’t mean attendance is not important. Make it your personal policy to be in class every time it meets. Students who don’t attend class regularly soon find themselves too far behind to catch up. Don’t undermine your chances for success! Go to class! Remember, you’re paying to be there. Get your money’s worth!
Another helpful hint: sit near the front. Studies show that students who sit near the front of the class make better grades than those who sit farther back.
If you have a legitimate reason why you must miss class, it’s important that you make every effort to contact the instructor ahead of time. Let your instructor know the date you have to miss and the reason why. Keep the reason short and simple. If the instructor wants details, he or she will ask for them.
Ask for any assignments in advance and arrange to have someone else turn them in for you. While it may not help you if there is a formal attendance policy in place, it will demonstrate your level of commitment, which can pay dividends in other ways.