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Advising in Science at Centralia College

1.  What do you want to be/do when you grow up?  In other words, what are your career goals? 
“I am not sure of my career goal.
“I have several possible ideas, but I do not know that much about them.”
“I know which career I wish to pursue, but I don’t know how to acquire the educational background.”

2.  What is the final degree necessary to reach your career goal?
“My career goal can be achieved with an associate's degree at Centralia College.”
“My career goal can be achieved with an associate's degree, but that specific degree is not available at Centralia College.”
“My career goal requires a bachelor’s degree (B.A., B.S.).
“My career goal requires a post-baccalaureate degree (M.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.D., etc.).”

3) Now that I know which courses I need to take, how do I organize a schedule and choose specific courses that will fulfill my requirements?
What other constraints (time / financial) do you have?
Do your courses have prerequisites?
When are your courses offered?
Which general elective courses should I take?
What can I do if the class that I want is closed when it is time for me to pre-register?

1.  What do you want to be/do when you grow up?  In other words, what are your career goals? 

“I am not sure of my career goal.   If this is your answer, go to www.wois.org.  WOIS is the Washington Occupation Information Service.  Centralia College pays a yearly fee for access to this fabulous resource.  You can access the WOIS web site directly from any computer hooked into the campus network;  for off-campus access, you will need a password to enter the site – see your advisor or the counseling center for this password.  From the left-hand menu, select Assessment. In this section, there are several surveys available that will assess your career aptitude.  It can be intimidating to think that you need to decide your life’s focus now, but the clearer that you are in your career path, the more efficient (and swift) will be your path to your career.  You may want to enroll in the Career Planning class (SDEV 105) to help identify which career is best for you.  Most degree programs require courses in math, English, humanities, social sciences, and science.  If you are totally undecided, start out with a sprinkling of courses across these areas, especially in those areas that you have an interest or aptitude.  If you do change your career focus, courses that you thought would be cornerstones of your degree can serve as diversity electives.

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“I have several possible ideas, but I do not know that much about them.”  If this is your answer, go to the career section of www.wois.org.  This will outline the basic job expectations, the financial rewards, and the educational expectations for a long list of careers.

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“I know which career I wish to pursue, but I don’t know how to acquire the educational background.”strong>  Go to the education section of WOIS and search for the career that you wish to pursue.  In the default setting, WOIS identifies all the programs available in Washington, northern Oregon, and western Idaho that will prepare you for your career.  It also specifies the degree options that would enable you to pursue this career. You can also search for information on degree options in other states if you are really looking for a change of scenery (or witness protection program...).

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2.  What is the final degree necessary to reach your career goal?

My career goal can be achieved with an associate's degree at Centralia College.”  Great, work with your advisor and the appropriate degree planning guide to select the courses that will enable you to prepare yourself academically for your career.

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“My career goal can be achieved with an associat'se degree, but that specific degree is not available at Centralia College.”  Let Centralia College be your stepping-stone to your associate's degree program.  Your first step in this situation will be to identify the prerequisites for this degree at several possible community colleges.  Generally, similar programs at different community colleges will have similar course prerequisites;  but, there may be one or two unique requirements at specific colleges.  Unfortunately, the prerequisites are not engraved in stone;  your best option is to check their current prerequisites from each college’s web site.  Then, work with your advisor to match courses at Centralia College with the prerequisite courses at your target community college.  Our goal (you and your advisor) is to best prepare you for admission into the program at the other community college and to succeed once you are admitted.  Remember, many of these programs have competitive admissions;  success in the classroom at Centralia College is critical for your admission.

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My career goal requires a bachelor’s degree (B.A., B.S.).  Perfect, first consult WOIS and your advisor to identify a few appropriate programs and baccalaureate institutions; then, consult the transfer admissions page at each institution.  Also, check for any specific admission requirements for your specific academic program.  In most cases, if you earn an associate's degree at Centralia College you will be admitted (if accepted) with junior standing at most schools;  there may be additional requirements (courses, GPA, etc.) for admission to specific undergraduate programs.  Consult the admissions requirements at your potential transfer schools and your advisor for the most appropriate degree path at Centralia College: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Biology.  Work with your advisor to identify those Centralia College courses that will be required for your bachelor's degree.  Generally it will be cheaper to finish those 100 - 200 courses at Centralia College;  use your time at the baccalaureate institution to enroll in specialty courses (300 and up) within your degree program, not introductory-level courses.

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“My career goal requires a post-baccalaureate degree (M.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.D., etc.) Let's work backwards from your final degree to the present. First, identify several target schools for your post-baccalaureate education.  Some programs will require specific majors in your bachelor’s degree;  others will require specific courses.  Generally, a post-baccalaureate degree path will have similar requirements, regardless of specific institution.  But it is always a wise step to examine the admissions requirements at several possible targets.  Seek insight from your advisor regarding the appropriateness of a specific graduate program for your specific career goals.  Use this information to identify several appropriate bachelor’s degree program and institution.  Examine the general transfer requirements and specific transfer requirements for several potential baccalaureate schools.  Work with your advisor to select the most appropriate degree and courses at Centralia College to maximize the likelihood that you will transfer into your first choice.

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3) Now that I know which courses I need to take, how do I organize a schedule and choose specific courses that will fulfill my requirements?

What other constraints (time / financial) do you have?  The associate's degree programs at Centralia College typically require 90+ credits and are designed to be finished in two years.  That, at least, is what the degree guides indicate, but in practice, it is the rare student who takes all their courses in exactly the time indicated in the degree guide. Excluding summer quarter, this schedule requires an average of 15 credits per quarter;  a minimum of 12 credits per quarter is required for a full financial aid award.  If you are working 35 hours per week, if you have significant family commitments (care of dependents, etc.), or if you have outside interests that are time consuming (athletics, for example), it is NOT realistic to also take a 15 credit course load.  To succeed in science course, you are expected to spend two hours studying outside of class time for every hour in lecture (and at least an hour per lab section).  If you are taking Math, Gen. Chem., and Biology, you will have 13 hours of lectures and 5 hours of lab per week (18 hours total);  that translates into a minimum of 28 hours of work outside of class, 36 hours a week total.  It is the rare student who can work full-time and maintain a full class schedule with solid grades.  Something has to give, either fewer work hours or fewer class credits.  If you are constrained financially from working fewer hours, it will take a bit longer to achieve your degree.  In the end, your transcript will look better, it will be cheaper, and you will do less damage to your GPA if you enroll in a class load that you can handle, rather than having to retake classes because you lacked the time to do your best in your classes.

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Do your courses have prerequisites?  Math, English, and many science courses have specific prerequisites or placement scores.  Prerequisites and placement score minimums are in place to ensure that you have the appropriate background to succeed. 

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When are your courses offered?  Many core classes (English 101 & 102, Psychology, Sociology, Speech, etc.) are offered every quarter, including summer.  Other courses are offered only once a year or only every other year.   You can use “Year-At-A-Glance” or specific degree guides as a predictors (sometimes imperfectly) to when courses are typically offered.   Multi-quarter sequences in Chemistry  (General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry) begin in Fall quarter;  if you are not ready to begin in the fall, you will need to wait until the following fall to start.  The Biology sequence can be started in fall (Biol& 221) or winter quarters (Biol& 222).  It is always best to take all three quarters in a multi-quarter sequence course.  If you transfer to a semester school, such as WSU, two quarters of a multi-quarter sequence will convert to one semester;  if you finish the third quarter, the three-quarter sequence will transfer as two semesters.  Once you know when specific courses that you will need are offered, build a multi-quarter / multi-year schedule as a guide.

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Which general elective courses should I take? Your science advisor and the specific degree guides are a great source of direction for specific science and math courses that you should complete for your degree.  When in doubt, finish your Math and English requirements as soon as possible;  the skills and approaches that you will learn in those courses will be a tremendous help in all your other courses.  When it comes to Humanities or Social Science electives, your advisor will be less helpful and the degree guides less specific.  How should you decide which elective courses to take?  Your first priority should be those specific science and math courses that are offered only once or twice a year.  Work your elective courses around these required courses.  View your electives as an opportunity for intellectual growth.  Are there electives that will supplement your science courses (such as Speech, Business, a foreign language, etc.)?  Everyone has secondary interests;  electives are a great way to explore those interests.  Ask your classmates for recommendations for specific classes or professors that they enjoyed.  Exposure to a compelling topic through the guidance of a motivated professor is part of the college experience.

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What can I do if the class that I want is closed when it is time for me to pre-register? Pre-registration reserves a seat for you in a class for the upcoming quarter.  Priority pre-registration time slots are awarded first to students who are in good standing (who met with their advisor before pre-registration) and who have accumulated the most credits.  By the time of your pre-registration slot, a class that you want may have filled.  You have several options.  First, you can contact the instructor and ask if they will give you permission to enroll;  some enrollment caps are flexible and some are not.  It cannot hurt to ask.  Second, keep checking online for open slots as other students change their schedules.  Third, students who have not paid their fees for the upcoming quarter or have not made other arrangements for payment by the deadline are dropped from their schedules and their seats are available.  Check online shortly after the payment deadline.  Finally, you can go to the first day of class and ask the instructor if there are any openings from students who did not show up.

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