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Monday, December 21, 2009

Junior College vs 4-Year University Pt. II

So, you’re seriously considering starting off your collegiate career at a two year junior college, huh? Well, this very well may be the most responsible decision you’ve made in your life. Now, I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. I’m sure that the successful person you become, that person, that debt-free person appreciates this decision. DISCLAIMER: The Dean of Sistahs University does not argue that one route is better than the other. Again, if your parents, you yourself, the University, or maybe our wonderful government have agreed to pay for you to attend a four-year institution and this won’t leave you in debt, go for it! Those who don’t have the same options are those who I’m talking to in this post.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page, let’s get back to it!

Here are just a few quick tips and little reasoning for each.
1. Take this seriously!
a. Junior college is not a joke; so, if you’re serious about making it to
the next level, please don’t think about junior college as the red-headed step-child of a “real” college. Buckle up, because ju-co’s are very, very real! And, they’re not a piece of cake. Classes will be smaller, but they won’t necessarily be easier. So, take advantage of the smaller classes and the one-on-one attention; but stay on your toes, because you’ll have to work hard.

2. Set a deadline for graduation. (READ: Don't be the seven-year senior)
a. Granted, this might make a few people angry, but procrastination does not rule this nation. Don’t fool yourself, many people go into two year institutions and take seven years to finish or they never finish at all! Yes, there are different obstacles that can prevent folks from finishing. People lose parents, run into financial problems, and some take time off to do some soul searching. Others are, well, just lazy. In any case, life doesn’t stop. You still have to work to survive; so, why not push through the hard times, push through the classes and the coursework, and push through to success. Get ‘er done and finish in 2, 2 ½ years.

3. Be prepared for the extra, more difficult work.
a. If you assume that junior colleges aren’t “real” colleges and the work will be a piece of cake, you’re sadly mistaken. Many of the Professors at Ju-co’s are tenured Profs or doctoral students at the four-year institution up the street. So, you’re getting their expertise at a discounted price. But, they don’t kick their expectations into a lower gear because they’re on a different campus. They’re going to push you. So, yes, Junior colleges are still “real” colleges and you’ll be doing more work and putting in more hours cranking out more homework than you did in high school. Consider yourself warned (gives motherly, squinted eye, I’m looking at you look).

4. Meet with an advisor early and often. (This is the most important thing you do once you get on campus.)
a. The first thing you MUST do is find out if your credits will transfer to four-year institutions. Sometimes, classes only count toward your ju-co Associate’s degree and do not carry over. There is no need in taking classes over again. Don’t waste your life. An easily way to save time once you get to the four-year, find out if your classes can transfer. In order to know this, you also need to start thinking about what college/university you want to transfer to once you finish. Then, you need to start doing your research to find out (1) if they have the program you want, (2) how many students before you successfully transferred to this institution. A lot of ju-co’s have really good relationships and programs that help you progress from the ju-co to the four-year. Ask your advisor about them! Now! In your first year!

5. Keep your grades up! Good grades are a necessity to transfer.
a. No explanation. Keep your grades up! Period. Move on.

6. Get involved on campus.
a. Attend meetings. Take on a leadership position. Volunteer. Start an organization. Walk on to an athletic team. Join the student council. You can’t just have good grades anymore; you have to couple a solid GPA with hours logged in around campus. These things will set you apart from your colleagues and other applicants.

Alright, class is dismissed! Take this advice. Run with it. Share it. Embrace it. Live it! Peace.

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