Orientation process implemented
State pushes high school graduates to enroll in new orientation course
The new statewide Student Success Initiative will alter the enrollment process for graduating high school students entering Contra Costa College.
The new process that will be implemented for fall 2014 semester is intended to help new students transitioning into college become oriented toward the goal of transferring to a four-year college.
Admissions and Records Director Catherine Fites said the new orientation process will only affect incoming students.
Counselor Norma Valdez-Jimenez said the new six hour orientation course (Counseling 108) will be available for graduating seniors to take all at once or in two hour increments.
Fites said the process would benefit new students who declare their major as "undecided."
"We are the first stop for students wanting to go to college who are clueless as to exactly what they want to do with their lives," Fites said.
New students are also required to take the assessment tests and create an educational plan with a major or lose the privilege of priority registration. New students who comply with the new enrollment process will be able to register as early as May 10, Fites said.
Counselor Robert Webster said if students out of high school choose not to undergo the new enrollment process, then they will have to wait until registration opens up to everyone in June.
The orientation serves as a guided tour of campus for new students to get to know the physical layout of the campus.
Valdez-Jimenez said counselors take groups of 20 students at a time in Counseling 108.
Fites said, if a student cannot meet with a counselor in person, he or she will have the option to complete the orientation process online.
Fites said, "Having a specialized educational plan is the most important part of the new process."
A penny for a major
The educational plan is nothing new, Webster said.
"When you're 18, 19, or 20 you really don't know who you are as a person and making a life decision can be difficult," he said. "A lot of students are undecided. A student will state a goal and then change his or her mind - it happens all the time."
He said many students require more guidance in deciding on a major. "This process is something we need to help them (begin to) develop a career."
Humanities department Chairperson David Houston said, "I didn't know my major until my senior year in college. Students should be uncertain. It is part of the life-long learning process."
Houston said placing so many restrictions on students who are unsure of their futures does harm to the California community college system.
He said students should be allowed to enroll into the classes they want and figure out their career paths through experiences only obtained by taking a variety of college courses.
Gateway to College senior Roberto Lopez was taken by surprise when informed of the new enrollment process.
After learning about the act, Lopez said he agrees with Houston.
"Students should not be forced to decide what they want to be for the rest of their lives at such a young age," he said. "That is the great thing about college. You get an idea of what you want in life by exploring different classes."
Middle College High School social sciences teacher Rico Adkins said he also had not heard anything about the new enrollment process. Once explained, he said the new hands-on approach is a good thing for graduating high school students.
"We have one counselor in our school who is very overwhelmed," he said. "This change is good. We need more counselors to work one-on-one with students to give them the guidance they need to put them on the right track."
Valdez-Jimenez said high school students who can't decide on a major should consider liberal arts, she said.
"Students can either go into math, science, humanities, art, the social sciences, communications or English if they want."
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