Educational Planning (Text Version)
- What is an Education Plan?
- A Diverse Body of Students
- Three Essential Tasks
- The S.T.E.P. Process
What is an Education Plan?
All types of students come to community colleges, but no matter what brought you here, you'll get ahead if you develop and stick to an "Education Plan." What is an Education Plan? An Education Plan is a plan that you will develop alongside your college counselor based on your goals and interests, and it basically lays out which kinds of classes you need to take, and when. All students benefit from creating their personal Education Plan, no matter what has brought them to community college and where they see themselves going after. We've brought in a few of our students to show you how diverse the community college student body is through their stories, and how they might benefit from creating an Education Plan for themselves, with the help of their college counselor. We'll follow their stories up with 5 Tips from Gina, our virtual college counselor, about the importance of creating an effective Education Plan.
A Diverse Body of Students
- Jaime: I'm not even sure I want to be in college. Why am I here? Because my parents say if I don't go to school, I will have to work full time and move into my own place. How can I possibly make an Education Plan when I don't have clue about what I want to do in life, let alone my college major?
- Cassandra: So I think I really messed up. I blew off my class placement tests and now I have to take remedial math and English. Have I let a couple of tests completely derail my college career?
- George: I retired last year, but I knew that I would be happier if I kept my mind active by taking college courses. Do I need an Education Plan?
- Olivia: I was a straight-A student in high school, planning to go to UCLA. But then my mom got sick and I had to stay home to help take care of her. I still want to go to medical school and need to develop an Education Plan that sets me up to transfer to UCLA for my junior year, once she's better. Please tell me that you can help me!
- Martha: I'I haven't been in school in five years and I'm terrified that I've forgotten how to be a student. On top of that, I have two small children and a husband who says he wants me to just go back to work. I know I can't make much money with just my high school diploma. I can't waste time. Everything I take has to count toward my nursing major. Can you help me with my Educational Plan?
- Andre: I'm here to play football, but in order to play, I need to maintain eligibility. I hope to go pro in a few years. Please set me up.
- Edgar: I work full time and have a family. My employer told me I have gone as far as I can go in the company without a Bachelor's degree. I earned a few college credits when I first graduated from high school, but I'm not sure they're worth anything anymore. What plan should I follow to get to a CSU ASAP? I'm thinking about taking online courses toward a business major.
Three Essential Tasks
Maybe some of these stories sound familiar to you, and maybe they don't. But you can see that on a community college campus, the student body is extremely diverse. The California Community College system wants to help all of you, no matter what your stories, become successful college students.
So what do you have to do on your end? First, you have to participate in an orientation, in order to get an idea of what being a student at your community college will be like. Second, you'll take placement tests so that your community college knows which level of required classes (think, math or writing) you would be most successful in. The third step is your Education Plan, which can be a two-step process. A preliminary Education Plan is fine in your first semester, but after that you'll need a more comprehensive Education Plan, your college counselor can really help you develop this.
Gina, our virtual college counselor, is here to tell you why an Education Plan is so important for you as a student.
The S.T.E.P. Process
Hi, my name is Gina, and as you already know, I am your virtual college counselor, here to talk to you about your Education Plan. When students come to me for advice, I tell them that a careful and well thought-out Educational Plan perfect way to STEP up their college career!
- S- Save. When you have a plan, you're less likely that to waste time and money by taking courses that are not part of your plan.
- T- Track. An Education Plan allows you to track your progress as a focused and driven student. You'll know when you're on track and when you've veering from your initial goal. But don't let that feel like overwhelming pressure! Did you know that many, if not most, college students change their majors at least once? You're not expected to have everything figured out from the first day of school, but even if you don't know what major you want to pursue, or what career path you want to follow, a preliminary college major helps most students more quickly figure out what they really want to do.
Additionally, if your educational goals are to earn an Associate's Degree and transfer to a four-year school for your Bachelor's degree, you will want to research the four-year schools that could be the best fit for you and your interests. Look at the Career Exploration module to get you started with that decision. The ASSIST website will get you started with transfer school information http://www.assist.org/web-assist/welcome.html, so that you can start researching what you should take care of at community college, before you transfer.
- E- Eligibility. If you are receiving Vet benefits, are an athlete, or are receiving a scholarship, there may be eligibility requirements that you need to keep track of. And if you're receiving Financial Aid, it is essential that you maintain a certain GPA and demonstrate progress toward your educational goals in order to continue to be eligible. All of these factors will be part of your Educational Plan, and they will help you keep your academic commitments and goals fresh in mind throughout each school term.
- P- Plan. Planning comes in many different forms, but it is one of the chief benefits to an effective Education Plan. You can plan to take courses in a sequence that makes sense in terms of course and placement pre-requisites. You can balance your semesters with easier and harder courses, as well as courses that are more interesting with those that may be less interesting. Leaving the hardest and least interesting courses for your last semester is NOT recommended. Also, did you know that some courses are not available every semester? With careful planning, you can minimize the risk that you will have to stay an extra semester just because you couldn't get into a course or two. Good planning will help you stay on top of this, and even expose you to "insider" tactics that will push you to the next level as a student. For instance, have you ever investigated the priority registration? It can not only ensure you of a better schedule, but It will also allow you to sign up for all the courses that you need for a particular semester. Make sure to find out how to benefit from priority registration at your college.
The bottom line is, when students know how the courses they are taking apply to their degree and can see their progress by using an Education Plan, they're more likely to complete their educational goals. It's as simple as that. Even if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, know that there are California Community College Academic Advisors and Counselors who will be more than happy to help you out. Develop a relationship with an Academic Advisor/Counselor sooner rather than later, and avoid waiting until peak advising times. It might just be one of the smartest things you do in college. They have a wealth of information and are ready and willing to help you to achieve your goals.