College Campus Resources

Family Modules

Middle School Module 1 Part 10

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Introduction

Objective: The student will describe different campus resources available to students in the college setting.

Estimated time 30-45 minutes

Materials needed:

Classroom curriculum Link:

This section corresponds with middle school classroom materials Module 1 Lesson 9.

Learn About It

College: it’s nebulous, far away, and you’re just trying to make the leap to high school. Why in the world would you need to think about college and college resources before you even make it to high school?

Well, in fact, the first step to college can be taken when you are in 8th grade by setting your academic path and choosing the classes that you take. You might not think that you are cut out for college, but hopefully, with the help of this activity, you will see that there are resources and staff available to assist you if you decide to attend college. The main thing is to set yourself up for a college pathway and understand that you can get help if there is even a slim chance that you want to go!

What's Out There?

The amount of resources available to students at the college level can be overwhelming, and many campuses offer resources that most people don’t even know about. Instead of being overwhelmed by all that college offers, think of these resources in terms of three broad headings:

  • Academic resources
  • Transportation and dining resources
  • Student organization resources
  • Click here to access the resource card activity. Take a few minutes to get a general understanding of what a college has to offer.

 

Parents Chime In

Depending on your experience with post-secondary education, you may or may not know a lot about the resources that colleges offer. Your child isn’t going to school tomorrow, so you don’t need to spend hours researching exactly what is offered and how to access it. This activity is designed to take away the fear that once a student gets to college, he or she is completely on his or her own.

You don’t need to have all of the answers today. Simply take a few minutes to talk to your child about the supports he or she feels would personally be most beneficial in college. What are the areas where your child struggles? What are his or her strengths? What do you think would be helpful for your child to know about college to make it seem more attainable?

Academic Resources

Let’s begin our exploration of potential college resources with a focus on academics. An academic resource is anything that contributes directly to your academic experience and opportunities in relation to your progression from your first year through graduation.

Campuses will have a variety of resources and may call them by different names. For example, each campus will have an office that provides accommodations for students with identified disabilities. “Disability Support Services” may offer students the same supports on one campus as “Academic Support Services for Students with Disabilities” on another campus. Some campuses may avoid using the term “disability” altogether and provide these supports through an office with a title like “Office of Accessibility Resources and Services.” The names of student services will not be standardized from campus to campus. Some campuses may also organize or group the organizations differently. However, the main types of support available are fairly standard across university settings.

As you get to know more about these types of resources, keep in mind that the services mentioned will vary from campus to campus. Some fairly common ones include:

  • Program and course offerings
  • Disability support services
  • Library
  • Tutoring: general and subject-specific centers
  • Advising
  • Career center
  • Information technology and computing services
  • Registrar
  • Study abroad

Let’s look at some of these in a little more detail.

 

Tutoring

Many college students take advantage of tutoring, and each campus tutoring model is a little different. When the time comes, check into your campus tutoring resources. Here are some things to look for:

  • Is there a range of undergraduate peer tutors, graduate student tutors, and maybe even staff tutors?
  • When is tutoring available?
  • Are the tutoring resources centralized in one place or is tutoring for specific classes offered in the respective departments and program areas?
  • Is there an additional cost for certain tutoring? Which resources are free of charge?

Tutoring in college is different from what you may experience in middle school or high school. In K-12 settings, students often only work with tutors in classes in which they are struggling. In college, however, students use tutors more proactively: they start visiting tutors at the beginning of the semester to practice with new content, review, rehearse, and learn. This helps in several ways:

  • It helps ensure that you are developing the fullest understanding of class material.
  • It helps you get the most out of the money that you are spending on classes.
  • It allows you to keep your grades up from the beginning so you will be less likely to need to bring them up later.
  • It helps you to monitor how you are doing in the class, since some college courses have very few assessments until the final exam.

If you wait until you are doing poorly (grade-wise) in class to seek tutoring, it may be too late in the semester to recover.

Some tutoring sessions can be tailored for individual student needs. Many colleges offer free tutoring in a wide variety of subjects and courses. They also may maintain lists of resources for students who need support beyond what they offer, such as online academic support or other tutors. Other tutoring resources include:

  • One-on-one tutoring
  • Peer tutoring or professional tutoring
  • Group sessions
  • Academic workshops in a variety of study skills and test-taking skills
  • Referrals to additional tutoring or academic resources.

In middle and high school, you can start viewing tutoring in a way that is more similar to how college students use tutoring. If you have access to tutoring resources (or after-school support), or if your parents or school would like to set them up for you, be proactive in using these opportunities. Visit with tutors and ask for the change to practice materials, take sample tests, and review class content even if you are not having difficulty. You may be surprised with the results.

Academic Advising Support

One of the great things about college is the freedom and flexibility students have to select the courses they will take each semester. Students do not, however, have to make these decisions alone. Colleges provide “advisors” to help students navigate their programs of study and make good choices for what classes to build into their schedule each semester. Advisors are a great resource when deciding which courses to put in your schedule, and much more. They can also help you:

  • Understand academic requirements and plan a course of study
  • Select, schedule, and register for classes
  • Monitor your academic progress
  • Interpret and follow academic guidelines
  • Locate other resources needed to meet your goals.

It’s important to get to know your academic advisors—and yes, you might have more than one. Some students might work with two or more different types of advisors during their college experience (see below). Others may have one advisor the entire time.

General (or pre-major) advisors work with students before they enter a major or degree program:

  • They’re trained to help students mostly through the process of completing foundational or core requirements.
  • They have a working knowledge of the college’s various degree programs, so they can guide students toward declaring a major.

Major advisors are the ones with the specialized knowledge about a specific major or degree program:

  • You’ll start working with a major advisor once you declare your major.
  • Major advisors have roles similar to that of general advisors, but they may be more focused on the issues that apply specifically to students in their own department.

Students who are majoring in one subject but also working toward a “pre-professional” track in order to attend a specialized graduate school (e.g., pre-law or pre-med) may also have a pre-professional advisor who helps them meet the special requirements of that track.

Some students may begin with a major advisor in their first year if they have a firm idea about their intended major from the beginning.

Career Center Offerings

Career centers on college campuses may have different names, but they are all a fantastic resource for students. Professionals in these centers can help students throughout the college years, not just in the graduation year. Most career centers offer events and workshops targeting career-related considerations throughout the college experience. Examples include:

  • Choosing a major
  • Finding your personal skill set
  • Career conversations
  • Finding internship opportunities.

As students prepare to graduate, a career center offers:

  • Resume-building support
  • Job fairs
  • Workshops on interviewing processes.

After students graduate, they may still be involved with the career center through:

  • Using the college or university’s job opportunities network and database
  • Attending various workshops about changing careers, wading through human resources, and building resume and cover letters
  • Accessing help for graduate school.

This valuable resource is often untapped by the student population on college campuses, and you will have to take the initiative to use the services they provide. Generally it’s worth the time!

Information Technology and Computing Services

The Information Technology (IT) centers on campus can help students indirectly with academics. Individuals in these departments also work behind the scenes to select and support technologies that enhance teaching and learning in a lot of different ways. Some services include:

  • Troubleshooting personal computers for hardware or software issues
  • Supporting student email
  • Providing workshops and training
  • Managing Internet safety and security
  • Maintaining campus computer labs
  • Supporting online courses or online course content
  • Maintaining campus servers and networks (wifi).
 

Library Services

The library is an important resource on any college campus. Many students don’t realize the depth and breadth of the services their library offers beyond traditional lending services, such as:

  • Loaning out technology items (e.g., Kindle, laptop)
  • Helping students select a good quality paper topic
  • Generating the citations needed to correctly reference sources in papers
  • Providing study environments for students and groups
  • Providing research and writing assistance.

Many modern college libraries are moving away from being simply a “house of books” and toward becoming a place where students can connect with information that might be found in a book, online, or from other people (librarians, peers, etc.).

With current technology, libraries can also be accessed remotely. Students may be able to use many of the library’s services from their dorm room or apartment.

 

Registrar

The “registrar” refers both to a department and to the person who is the head of that department. The university registrar keeps track of all of the educational records for students who attend that university.

Students come into contact most with the registrar when doing things like:

  • Making schedule changes
  • Requesting transcripts
  • Applying for graduation
  • Certifying degree requirements.

Although students do not typically spend a lot of time with the campus registrar, it’s an important office on campus and a valuable resource for students.

 

Transportation and Dining Resources

If the transition from middle school to high school seems like a big jump, going from high school to college can seem even bigger. One reason is that you will suddenly be responsible for taking care of yourself!

You may have questions about where you will get your food and how you will get from place to place. In this section, you’ll get some answers and see that it’s not so scary out there. Colleges do a lot to take care of their students! Check out these videos and see for yourself.

 

Parents Chime In

For a child who has difficulty with academics in school, the course work requirements of college can be a big “unknown” and source of anxiety. Help your child to see that even though college professors expect students to be responsible for the information they present, students will have access to many resources to help them navigate and comprehend that information.

The resources covered here merely scratch the surface of student supports on most college campuses. However, these resources are not going to seek out your child. He or she will have to take the initiative to learn and use what is offered.

Have any of the resources presented so far sounded like something that would benefit your student? If so, check out where to find them at the colleges that might interest your student.

Now is also a good time to begin teaching your child now to be proactive in finding ways to receive support in school.

Campus Transportation

Transportation is an essential part of college regardless of whether a student lives on or off campus. A student’s location on campus will determine his or her specific needs. Some transportation options are provided by the campus while some must be provided by the students.

Students on campus will typically not have convenient access to a car and will rely heavily on buses or bikes. Students who live off campus either will need a parking pass, will ride a bus, or will bicycle to and from campus.

Students have many transportation options, but schools differ in their parking and transportation options based on their location. For example, most urban schools have limited parking, whereas rural schools will have larger parking areas.

Buses:

  • Safe and reliable way to travel
  • Most require a campus ID
  • Typically have multiple stops in a city, including grocery stores, shopping centers, and apartment complexes.

Bikes

  • Convenient
  • Efficient
  • Cost effective.

Personal vehicles and parking

  • Parking for freshmen is often limited
  • Stickers or parking passes are usually required on campus
  • Prices and parking availability vary by campus.

Parents Chime In

Parents have many differing opinions about where their children should live when in college. Many of these opinions are based upon their own college experiences or the experiences of their friends.

Living arrangements will affect transportation to and from campus and class. When the time comes and your child decides to go to college, help your student decide carefully where to live. For now, just talk to your child about the different transportation options available.

Dining Resources

Food: some of us think about it all the time. For a growing body, regular meals are an important component of life. Colleges recognize this, and, in an effort to attract students and provide an enjoyable experience, many colleges have expanded their on-campus dining options.

Dining halls are also becoming more sophisticated and health conscious for all types of palates. They offer a variety of cuisine both in traditional, all-you-can-eat, cafeteria-style, and a la carte plans. Some campuses also offer chain food dining options on campus.

Meal plan options vary by university. Most offer a “small, medium or large” meal plan for cafeteria use only with an additional debit-style card that can be used at any dining facility on campus. Money can be added to the debit card at any time. Most colleges offer a wide variety of combinations among these options.

 

Student Organization Resources

Many colleges and universities have broadened their mission to develop the "whole student,” since they have discovered that students’ campus connections and involvement are among the biggest factors determining whether students stay in school and finish their degrees. The “whole student” focus may lead to increased learning and engagement in the college setting.

Extracurricular involvement is a key tool in personal development; student involvement in extracurricular activities can play an integral role the overall college experience. Students become involved in extracurricular activities for many reasons, including:

  • Entertainment
  • Social and enjoyment purposes
  • To gain and improve skills
  • To interact with other students
  • To strengthen their resume.

Information gathered from: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1855/College-Extracurricular-Activities.html.

Extracurricular Resources

Think of all the different people and interests in your high school. Now imagine combining that school with many other high schools. Due to the sheer number of people, you’d find many people with the same interests and goals. Because of this, colleges offer a wide range of extracurricular resources. There is something for everyone! In fact, there are so many options that it’d take a lot of space to list them all; here they are grouped into general categories. As you read through these descriptions, think about the activities that would interest you!

Academic and professional organizations:

  • Gain experience in a chosen occupational field
  • Help in the search for a job
  • Discuss issues related to a common field of interest
  • Learn job-related skills
  • Focus in on one career area of interest.

Examples include the American Marketing Association, Student Education Association, and the Mathematics Society.

Student government

  • Members are typically elected to their positions by peers to be the “official voice” of students to the university administration
  • Some members serve on campus-wide committees to represent the ideas and concerns of their fellow students.
  • ome roles include
  • Allocating funds to other organizations
  • Planning programs related to student interests
  • Providing forums for student issue discussion
  • Helping to build and sustain a successful campus community.

additional examples of campus governance organizations include honor councils, which seek to enforce a university's honor code, and judiciary boards, where students hear disciplinary cases and render verdicts.

Other activities

  • Honorary organizations recognize student scholars who maintain a specific grade point average
  • Faith-based organizations offer students an opportunity to gather in fellowship with students of similar religious backgrounds
  • Media organizations on campus consist of print, television, and radio venues; activities may include writing or taking pictures for the school newspaper, serving on the yearbook staff, or working as a disc jockey for the campus radio station
  • Students interested in politics may join organizations such as the College Republicans or College Democrats
  • Students who enjoy planning campus-wide events may participate in the Homecoming or Parents' Weekend committees
  • Greek organizations (fraternities and sororities) offer many social opportunities while also promoting service and leadership.

information gathered from:

The arts:

  • Plays, musicals, and dance concerts
  • Marching band, jazz band, orchestra, and singing groups
  • Pottery, sculpture, and mosaic classes and workshops
  • …and more.

Volunteer and Service-Related Activities:

  • Serve to help improve the local and worldwide community
  • Offer programs such as “alternative spring break,” where students engage in community service projects like rebuilding homes, planting trees, or tutoring students during their college spring break.
  • May function throughout the year, such as with organizations like Alpha Phi Omega, Habitat for Humanity, and Circle K.

There are many different ways to get involved; ask around, and consult available guides:

  • Volunteer database: Some campuses have a database to which you can add your name and contact information to be informed about volunteer and service opportunities on campus.
  • Service and immersion trips: Travel in your own state or to another country for volunteer work.
  • Campus organizations: Get involved with a specific service group on your campus.
  • Advocacy: Explore ways to work with others on topics of social change that interest you.

Multicultural Activities:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of various cultures and ethnic and racial backgrounds.
  • May include festivals, concerts, lectures, and discussions that promote multicultural awareness on campus.
  • Build positive racial, ethnic, or sexual identity development.

Examples of multicultural organizations include the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Association, and the Russian Club.

Sporting activities

In the college setting, athletics can mean many different things. Almost every college and university offers some type of intercollegiate and intramural athletics.

Varsity Athletics

  • Requires a great commitment of time and energy for practicing, conditioning, and competing
  • Highly competitive
  • Subject to governance by a national organization such as NCAA

Club Sports

  • Organized and competitive, but less so than varsity sports
  • Fewer restrictions and rules; may be student-governed
  • Less time commitment than varsity sports.

Intramural Sports

  • Levels of organization and competition vary drastically and could be “just for fun”
  • Leadership is typically by students
  • Minimal time commitment.

Spirit Organizations: Members attend sporting events together, sit in a special cheering section, and cheer for their team.

Information gathered from:
http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1855/College-Extracurricular-Activities.html

Study Abroad Programs

Traveling abroad is an opportunity that very few people have the chance to do. Once you are out of school and have a job, it becomes even harder. Colleges offer a great option for people who want to travel to a different country, live cheaply, and receive college credit for it! If you have any interest in traveling, you may want to seriously consider participating in a study abroad program. Opportunities vary by university. If you are interested in study abroad, consider these things:

  • You can choose from a variety of host institutions and countries.
  • Various living arrangements are possible, such as living in dorms and living with a host family.
  • Programs range in length, including short-term, summer-long, semester-long, or year-long programs.
  • Costs vary depending on the school, program, location, and other factors. You can usually apply financial aid to study abroad programs.
  • heck out these resources for more study abroad information!
  • Gilman Scholarship Program
  • Gilman Scholarship Video “A Day in the Life”
  • South Africa – Port Elizabeth
 

Disability Support Services

Many people think that once you go to college, you lose all support. That is not the case! Colleges offer many disability supports to students. Although some of the accommodations appropriate for college are a little different from middle school or high school, some will stay the same, such as extended time on tests or testing in a quiet environment.

As a college student you will have to take more responsibility when seeking out these services, so middle school is a great time to start learning what others do for you behind-the-scenes and become an active participant in your own educational planning. Often, the stigma associated with using disability support services in the college setting is much less than what might be associated with a resource room in middle school.

Disability support services are often under-utilized on college campuses, so make sure you take full advantage of these supports!

Objective Check

Have you accomplished today's objective?

Objective: The student will describe different campus resources available to students in the college setting.

If so, congratulations!

If not, review College Campus Resources again and discuss the questions at the end of this lesson. Ask your parent to review this material with you.

Digging Deeper:

Follow Up

As mentioned at the beginning, you have a long time before you decide whether to go to college. However, if you think you might want to go, it’s good to start planning at the beginning of high school. Don’t choose to skip college just because it’s unknown or you think it will be too hard. There are supports in place to help you succeed! Take a few minutes to review the following questions with a parent or guardian:

  • What are the three general categories of resources offered in college?
  • What types of academic supports are offered at college?
  • Which resources do you feel would be most beneficial to you as a college student?