This is why you lean IN instead of BACK…

Popular college propaganda wants parents out of the educational process, to get out of the way so the college professionals can manage the process. That’s fine and dandy if colleges were actually good at getting teens out of college. Sure, they only get revenue while our kids are enrolled, so I get that they want to keep them there, but I’ve said 1,000 times that getting our kids IN to college is easy but getting them OUT is exceptionally hard. Today’s example is why you must take your role of guidance counselor seriously and know the rules of the game so you’re not wasting time and money.

About 10 years ago my sons asked if I could stop using their names or stories in my posts, and I mostly respect their request, but today was such a bullseye perfect example of how colleges casually give out the wrong advice. A parent that isn’t paying attention can make a big mistake by following that advice- one that costs both time and money.

My son already has his degree and has been working full time for several years at a regional grocery distribution center. Back when he was in high school, he took 4 dual enrollment classes in supply chain and logistics. The classes were not part of his degree, but are very relevant to what he is doing TODAY in his career, so I decided to look and see if there was a way to roll those 4 classes into a credential that he could include on his resume.

Pro tip: Unused college credit can often be bundled into a certificate. Certificates are usually only 9-18 college credits. Because of transfer restrictions, your best bet is to try the college of origin first.

I found that his old DE college offers an 18-credit undergraduate certificate in Supply Chain Management that consists of these 4 classes (!) and 2 others. The cherry on top is that he took 1 of the other classes locally, so he really is just 1 class away from this certificate. I love low-hanging fruit! So I had him contact his academic advisor via email to find out the reenrollment process (new student or current student?) and if he needs advisor permission to register (he did when he was a DE student years back) and what he needs to do to get this done today.

(the advisor’s reply)

Dear -name removed-
Thank you for contacting us.   You will need to reapply to the college as Special Credit in order to just take one class.   I am including that link below: (link)

Regards,

-name removed- Academic Advising

Short. Sweet. Easy. 100% wrong.

My son knows better than to do what a college tells him to do without asking me first. I knew it before I clicked on the link they sent, this advice was about to run him into a brick wall. I want to walk you through this.

(college’s catalog entry from the link provided)

Special Credit Students
If you don’t wish to complete a degree, diploma, or certificate at -name removed- you may be considered a special credit student. Apply for Special Credit Student admission to the college and submit previous college transcripts (official or unofficial) before registering for classes.

Special Credit Students (also called transient students by some colleges) are ALWAYS non-degree seeking! This is “advising 101” stuff. This is precisely what makes them special. Students in this category complete a different application process, send their information in to a different admissions department, skip past much of the steps regular students complete, don’t qualify for financial aid, and are INELIGIBLE for a degree/certificate.

If we follow this advisor’s advice by having him fill out the paperwork and take the class, everything would seem like it’s going great until he finishes the class and finds out after the fact that he missed out on getting his certificate.

A DEGREE-ELIGIBLE student will get a graduation prompt (pretty typical for most colleges) telling him he qualifies for the certificate and how to file the proper paperwork, confirm the spelling of his name, order cap and gown (if applicable), and pay any graduation fees. Since he’s a Special Credit Student, he doesn’t have a college email, which means he won’t get that prompt. He also won’t know that he didn’t get that prompt because he won’t have an advisor. He won’t hit the deadline for filing a graduation paperwork, the Registrar won’t complete a degree audit, and he’ll be left wondering why he never got anything to hang on his wall.

Later, when he lists this credential on his resume and an employer tries to confirm the credential, the college will have no record of him earning this credential. This may go undetected for years if no one tells him that the college won’t confirm the credential. After all, no one told him anything was wrong.

We’re not making this mistake. He’s not filling out the form at that link, and I can guide him through the process of how to apply properly as degree-seeking student so he will be in the system properly and get his certificate. Mistakes of every flavor have happened every semester to every one of my kids…and myself… and my husband. There have been dozens of mistakes, across dozens of different colleges with different advisors. I field questions at HS4CC all day long from parents who were given incorrect information from a college employee. This won’t derail my son’s success, but by sharing this small example, I hope it helps YOU from letting it derail YOUR son’s success.

You are your teen’s best guidance counselor. This stuff is important, and you should always always be that extra set of eyes.


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Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

2 thoughts on “This is why you lean IN instead of BACK…

  1. Do you ever tell the person they were incorrect? What do you think the real issue is? Incompetence? Laziness?

    1. I encourage parents to watch closely- of course you can point out their error- advisors need to be more accountable but the system isn’t set up that way now. It is 100% on the student to assure they meet every course and degree requirement in order to qualify for graduation. You may or may not even know about errors for weeks, months, or years later. What do *I think the issue is? Good question. The system is very big, very broken, and involves too many cooks in the kitchen. Getting OUT of college is very very very hard. Only about half that start will be able to figure it out- and at the community college level, only 1 in 10 do. Since the colleges don’t admit there is a problem, I think the best use of my time is spent HERE teaching parents what to look for and how to be successful despite having to participate in a broken system.

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