“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Complaints about Southwestern College’s counselors are as common as complaints about parking. It can be tricky just getting an appointment. Waiting several weeks for an appointment is the rule, not the exception. Students are often flummoxed after an appointment and blame the counselors for not meeting their needs. Results can range from taking an unneeded class to spending another year on campus, all because of a counselor’s bad advice.
There is plenty of blame to go around.
SWC is a robust campus with more than 20,000 registered students. There are not enough counselors for the student body, leaving them overworked and rushed. With the budget in shambles, hiring more counselors is out of the question. Their time has never been at a higher premium.
College prepares one for careers, the springboard to independence. While counselors occasionally give bad advice, the responsibility lies on the student for success. Time is valuable and neither the student nor the counselor should waste it.
Research should start before students register for their first class. Even if the student has not declared a major, a core selection of general education classes is needed for associate’s degrees and those wishing to transfer. This information can be found in the catalog on the SWC’s website.
Many go into an appointment groping blindly, waiting for the counselor to lead them to safety. Time is spent answering simple questions that could be easily researched online in the catalog. Appointments should be used to check your education plan for errors, not for basic inquires.
Research is paramount to success before and after your appointment. SWC’s counselors are well-trained, but not infallible. Many will give students the tools to do assessment and double-check their work. Counselors craft an education plan, a blueprint that must be double checked. A transfer or associate’s degree qualifications can be found in the catalog online, but transferring to a four-year university is more complicated.
Whether one plans to go to a California State University (CSU) or a University of California (UC), the best tool is www.assist.org. This essential resource allows students to verify which SWC classes transfer to both CSU and UC schools. Each major’s qualifications can be checked and students can avoid taking unneeded classes. Prospective students can check to see if elective credits transfer to the CSU and UC systems, saving on time and money.
Another asset for the student is the SWC Transfer Center, which offers appointments and workshops to help applicants transfer to colleges across the country and globe.
Students should get on the mailing list and hear about campus tours and changes in admission requirements and dates. Linked through the www.swccd.edu website, the Transfer Center has tips from essay topics used at various colleges to a last-year checklist so one will not get sidelined due to an unexpected delay.
It is disappointing when life is put on hold because classes are full or even worse, because of poor advice or shabby class selection. While students cannot control the waitlist, they can control class selection. There is plenty of blame to go around, but ultimately the students suffer. It is time for students to take the reins and steer their own path through college, with the counselors as educated wingmen.