Mak­ing the tran­si­tion into post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS - Mackenzi Frederick bridge­spro­ject.org/ stu­dent-en­gage­ment-mat­ters.

Bridges Pro­ject for Ed­u­ca­tion be­lieves in the ben­e­fits of post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, whether in pur­suit of vo­ca­tional train­ing, a two-year as­so­ciate or a four-year bach­e­lor’s de­gree. The ef­fort you, or the prospec­tive or cur­rent col­lege stu­dent in your life, put into at­tend­ing, per­sist­ing through and com­plet­ing a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion or de­gree has ex­po­nen­tial re­wards. These in­clude: knowl­edge of a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject or across a range of sub­jects; ca­reer foun­da­tions and skills; ex­panded job op­por­tu­ni­ties; in­creased in­come; bet­ter health and well-be­ing; and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment via vot­ing and vol­un­teer­ing. In­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties can ben­e­fit as more cit­i­zens en­gage in post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

The tran­si­tion into col­lege, how­ever, can be chal­leng­ing for the stu­dent and their fam­ily, guardian and sup­port net­work. As pos­i­tive a change as it can be, those who are first-gen­er­a­tion to col­lege are es­pe­cially af­fected, since they do not have the ben­e­fit of their fam­ily’s pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with higher ed­u­ca­tion to smooth the path. In ad­di­tion, stu­dents from small, ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties such as ours may find the tran­si­tion un­com­fort­able, es­pe­cially if they leave home to live on or near cam­pus.

Chal­lenges

What are some of the chal­lenges that new col­lege stu­dents face? It de­pends on whether they’re a re­cent high school grad­u­ate or non­tra­di­tional stu­dent (GED/HSE grads, par­ents, mil­i­tary and those older than 24). Many re­cent high school grad­u­ates are be­com­ing adults even as they tackle a col­lege-level course load and new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. This may be the first time they live on their own, with a room­mate or room­mates, and in a new com­mu­nity that may dif­fer greatly from the one in which they were raised. Some stu­dents may work while in col­lege. Non­tra­di­tional stu­dents may ex­pe­ri­ence some or all of these changes, while also bal­anc­ing fam­ily and work du­ties.

Sup­port ser­vices

All schools of­fer sup­port ser­vices for new and cur­rent col­lege stu­dents. The U.S. De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spon­sors TRIO pro­grams, in­clud­ing Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices, in­tended to as­sist low-in­come, first-gen­er­a­tion and stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties into and through col­lege. If you’re el­i­gi­ble, check your col­lege to find out if they par­tic­i­pate in TRIO.

Col­leges of­fer other sup­ports based on stu­dent need. Most pro­vide train­ing on how to nav­i­gate their col­lege sys­tem, aca­demic ad­vise­ment, men­tal health and well­ness cen­ters, tu­tor­ing ser­vices and cen­ters for un­der­rep­re­sented stu­dent groups who may need ad­di­tional sup­ports. This can in­clude African-Amer­i­can, Asian-Amer­i­can, peo­ple with learn­ing or phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, His­panic, LGBTQ, Na­tive Amer­i­can and women stu­dent cen­ters. These cen­ters pro­vide cul­tural pro­gram­ming, men­tor­ships, schol­ar­ships and work­shops, while pro­mot­ing cam­pus di­ver­sity, stu­dent re­ten­tion and aca­demic and per­sonal suc­cess.

En­gage­ment equals suc­cess

A re­cent study by Chal­lenge Suc­cess, a non­profit af­fil­i­ated with the Stan­ford Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Ed­u­ca­tion, iden­ti­fied stu­dent en­gage­ment as one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors in stu­dent suc­cess. Stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in their classes, in­tern­ships or re­search, stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tions and other ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties – who are ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in their ed­u­ca­tion – re­port the great­est stu­dent learn­ing, job sat­is­fac­tion, well-be­ing and fu­ture in­come. Stu­dent suc­cess may have less to do with at­tend­ing a more se­lec­tive or even a par­tic­u­lar col­lege and ac­tu­ally rest in the stu­dent’s hands and ini­tia­tive. Read Bridges’s blog to learn more:

Bridges en­cour­ages stu­dents, fam­i­lies and sup­port net­works to keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open through­out this process. Talk with those who have shared sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. Our col­lege coun­selors are avail­able to speak with all in­volved about the many changes they might be go­ing through. We of­fer ad­vice, help guide peo­ple to rel­e­vant sup­port ser­vices and as­sist our clients with the fi­nan­cial aid process while they’re in school. Call (575) 758-5074 or email Bridges at [email protected]­spro­ject.org to sched­ule an ap­point­ment.

Macken­zie Frederick is the col­lege coun­selor and de­vel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor for Bridges Pro­ject for Ed­u­ca­tion.

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