Advising center prepares students for the future

For BCC students planning to transfer to a four-year university, the Educational Planning and Resource Center in B232 is a cornerstone of educational planning and networking.

The center’s professional advisors meet with new students to orient them with the degree programs and classes BCC offers and with continuing students to make sure they’re reaching their academic goals. Their intention is to provide both a starting and a reference point to explore and later determine potential educational paths and a line to connect students to the universities, departments, and individuals who can further help them transition to a four-year university.

“Many beginning students are unsure of what they’d like to major in,” comments Celinda Smith, Director of Educational Planning. “So to start, just exploring their interests and strengths often becomes the focus of course selection.”

Before selecting courses to fit a major, undecided transfer students are often encouraged during their first couple of quarters to take classes related to their various interests. Advisors work with them to find out what kind of activities and subjects they’ve enjoyed in the past, and how these might relate to various majors and careers.

The goal is to help students experiment with various subjects while still using these credits to fulfill basic requirements. Once a student establishes the subjects they would like to study, advisors then work with them to develop a more specific plan.

“Our goal is to ensure that students know not only where they’d like to go or what they’d like to do, but that they’re prepared for their major before they enter a four-year college,” Smith says.

The center connects students to the specialized advisors in various departments, such as natural science or business, who can more specifically help them plan their courses and activities. Department advisors also connect students to scholarships and schools that may have programs particularly suited to that field.

Preparing for a major, Smith explains, is essential because university enrollment is becoming increasingly competitive. Many colleges require or prefer students to declare their major or area of study by their junior year, and community college transfer students are no exception.

Statewide, community and four-year colleges agree upon basic course requirements for the Associate of Arts and Science Direct Transfer Agreement, the general transfer degree. These requirements dictate the distribution of credits needed in each subject, including humanities and electives, for the first two years of college. However, taking more major-specific 100 and 200 level courses increases a student’s eligibility for acceptance into a four-year college.

To make specific planning more accessible, several branches of the basic AAS/DTA degree are available. Credit distribution plans are available in the advising center, either as a guideline for choosing specific courses while getting a general degree, or as a set of requirements for students who’d like to specialize their BCC transfer degree.

Online tools are also becoming available to help students determine where their credits should be used, such as the online degree audit. In addition to choosing appropriate courses, students are encouraged to gain experience through extra-curricular and volunteer activities related to their intended majors.

The advising center keeps up-to-date contacts and information to refer students to campus clubs and activities. Smith notes that this is an important part of the transfer process because experience and volunteering are crucial and significantly increase the appeal of college students to potential universities.

Throughout the process, students are reminded to stay connected to the main advising office. At any point, students can come to advising and access cabinets full of university catalogs and applications, schedules for transfer fairs and other educational planning events. Advisors also make use of “informed referrals,” as Smith says, to other departments and individuals that can help with a number of academic and other issues.

The declared focus of the Advising Center is to prepare students as thoroughly as possible for their educational career. They strive to do this through a vast bank of resources, information, referrals, and of course the primary medium, personal one-on-one advice.