Advising Under-prepared Students
Student files are reviewed by the ASC Reading Committee if the student has either:
- A composite ACT of below 18
- A HS GPA below 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
Seen by committee. Students who “come to Committee” are admitted, admitted with a required transition program, or denied. Since a lower percentage of need is met for academically under-prepared students, few accepted students enroll from this category. They are more at risk for dropping out for financial reasons, but generally have invested more of their own money, which acts as an incentive to “stay the course.”
The broader view. Although few students may fall into this category by their exact numbers, the trends in HS grade inflation and lack of maturity means that there are many more students “at risk” than the statistics alone would indicate. If you sense a student is "on shaky ground" and could benefit from some of the tactics here, you are probably right.
Hints to help a potentially under-prepared student: (and others, too)
- Do be enthusiastic about their future (rather than pronounce academic doom)
- Do not make an issue of their status (it’s a warning, not a fate)
- Encourage them to make the most from the Transition class, if assigned into it
- Ask about their plans to balance sports or other passion (theater, etc) with academics
- Pay special attention to Math, English and other placement indicators
- Connect students to resources quickly (tutors, writing center, math help desk)
- Suggest a regular series of check-ins during the first 6 weeks of the term
- Pay special attention to overall credit load (closer to 13 than 18)
- If undecided, try for a mix of one class each in 2-3 possible majors that are also DRs
- Watch out for quill DRs (literature, Rel/Phil, history etc) before English 100/101
- Be wary of too many classes of the same type (high reading, high writing)
- Try not to load up on labs (limit to one if possible)
- Remember that CHM 115 needs MTH112 as a co-requisite (loads of work!)
- Watch “little” classes (band/choir/theater) for overall contact hrs/work load
- Watch out for all classes back to back with empty free days (esp. T-Th only)
A classic case. You may see the equivalent of a pre-med student with a history of Bs and Cs and a composite ACT of 19 who is placed in MTH 099 or MTH 101. This student will need a light load the first term but will need at least one lab class as a reality check. Even BIO 121/122 is sometimes a risk for these students. This is a case where ability and desire may not align, but it is most helpful if the student determines this and makes their own choice after a trial period. Talk to the members of your department to get a sense of similar situations you might see.
Lack of maturity, effort or focus. Hopefully the student will catch on before it is to late for academic success. Many of our students do not have the single-mindedness that we demonstrated at the undergraduate level, and need more help giving up the pleasures of freedom for the academic workload required for success. Connecting each of them to appropriate mentors, and to the larger world of careers, can help them catch fire!
Plan to keep in contact. If you have a student who is assigned to the Transition Program or seems in need of a little extra guidance, please do not hesitate to check in with them, just to see how things are going. Sometimes students become overwhelmed and so paralyzed they seem unable, or unwilling, to ask for help. Your friendly contact can make all the difference to them! And it's a lot easier to solve problems before final grades are handed out.