Using the term “insider trading’ is a bit of a stretch to describe accessing advantages and opportunities in the world of higher education.
Yet, on certain levels, it does ring true.
While those in the know benefit, the general public struggles to understand the investment culture in hopes of securing a more solid, economic future.
In principle, the same process applies to the college student experience.
College students “in the know” usually make wise choices, consider options, and take advantage of opportunities.
And most of them (those in the know) graduate in 4 years.
However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduation rate for first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 4-year postsecondary institutions is only 39.8%
Moreover, not having access to the insider information blueprint leaves most first generation college students extremely vulnerable. They either face a five or six-year graduation schedule and/or succumb to the dropout temptation.
Learning the various pathways to securing that B.A. degree requires regular collaboration with “those in the know”… such as academic advisors, financial aid advisors, faculty, and academic librarians.
Even college graduates who have made the journey successfully have found themselves, on occasion, blindsided by the realization “…if I had only known!”
In addition, the academic advisor is, in fact, the best interpreter of higher ed insider information. They know the academic policy exceptions that can truly impact a student’s decision to drop out or graduate.
Yet, studies show that only 4 in 10 undergraduates consider academic advisors a key resource.
By the way, the national academic/student advisor caseload ratio is, at best, 1 to 200 and at worst, 1 to 600, depending on the size of the institution.
So, the question you need to ask yourself is do I want to graduate in 4 years? And, if so, what is the best pathway to pursue?
First, have a planning discussion with your campus academic advisor. Then develop your graduation blueprint action plan. Also, develop a Plan B to handle unanticipated life and/or academic events.
In addition to your advising discussions, consider the following challenges:
Establish, in your freshmen year, a personal academic support team that includes academic and career advisors, tutors, faculty, and academic librarians.
- These people know the “insider information” regarding the various paths to success in your institution. You need to recruit them and engage with them on a regular basis.
Be keenly aware that higher education has its own language and culture.
- Start early to familiarize yourself with the policies, practices, and procedures listed in your student handbook. To ignore this critical reference tool is to LIMIT your academic options, choices, and opportunities!
And don’t panic if you have not yet decided on your academic major.
- The general education component of a B.A./B.S. program exposes you to different academic disciplines. This ultimately will help you make that final decision. So be selective and attentive in choosing your GenEd courses.
- Meandering through your first couple of years does more harm than good, particularly if you’re paying for it and/or have student financial aid.
Working more than 25 hours a week.
- Student academic productivity generally decreases for students working more than 25 hours per week.
- For many of today’s students, working is not necessarily an option…62% of America’s college student population work.
Is There More?…Oh, Yeah!
Taking a typical full-time academic load of 12 credits a semester is actually a 5-year graduation plan, not the 4-year one most aspire to achieve.
You can take advantage of one or more of the following 3 options if you’re on the 4-year graduation schedule:
- Go to summer school
- Take courses during winter intersession, and/or
- Increase your credit load to 15 credits per semester
Planning to transfer?
- Then make certain before you do, get a complete college transcript evaluation FIRST from the college you want to attend.
- There is no such thing as automatic credit transfer from one institution to another. Campus graduation requirements differ from institution to institution, even within state university systems.
- Without a thorough investigation of your credits and institutional confirmation, you could easily loose precious graduation credit, not to mention time!
Be proactive and become involved in your campus community.
- It’s the best way to build your personal and professional network and minimize feelings of isolation and possible depression. Besides, you’re gonna really need that network when you graduate.
- Most campuses have a ton of diverse activities that can accommodate your academic and personal schedules.
Lastly, if you’re a financial aid recipient, then you need to know your financial aid as well as academic obligations.
- Ignoring this obligation now will most likely interfere financially with your future career plans.
- Check in periodically with the Student Financial Aid Office…don’t procrastinate!
Succeeding in higher education requires being pro-active about your personal and academic welfare.