Cause of student debt may relate to self-guidance in degree planning

Published by Peyton Manning on

Oregon Transfer Days provides students with a Zoom-like experience to meet representatives from public universities.
Photo provided by Umpqua Community College

Cause of student debt may relate to self-guidance in degree planning

A road trip without a GPS or map leads to disaster, and the same can be said for planning out a career without a college degree plan. College students can waste thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours if they attempt to transfer without adequate communication from college academic advisors or without proper research into their university.

The public Oregon universities offer different costs, requirements, and deadlines for incoming students.
Graphic created by Peyton Manning / The Mainstream

Non-transferable credits easily compare to failed courses because either way students will be required to retake the course.

“If you fail a 5-credit course, it’s like flushing away $700 or $800 down the toilet,” said Dan Ruch, the enrollment and transfer advisor at UCC.

Ruch and Academic Advisor Mary Worthington agree that planning at any point in a college student’s career is wise. Planning ahead is better. They recommend that 2020/2021 first-year students begin their career preparation now.

Students who fail to plan ahead will discover that their Pell Grants are limited. Federal law prohibits students from receiving Pell Grant funding for more than six years in their lifetime. These six years are calculated using the Lifetime Eligibility Used formula.

To avoid running out of money, students can also research the types of transferable credits from UCC to other public in-state universities. The state of Oregon website offers a list of some transferable credits between community colleges and the public universities for both majors and minors. Many of Oregon’s public universities also have a list of courses guaranteed to transfer for credit. Students might consider speaking with their academic advisor if their course-of-choice is unlisted.

While taking courses that will not transfer may seem more expensive, students should talk to their advisor or instructors about the non-transferable courses they are interested in. Some provide valuable experience and internship opportunities that can set transfer students up for success.

According to Ruch, certain universities also offer articulated programs designed specifically to smoothly transfer credits from other colleges. Universities these programs to guide transfer students and keep them from duplicating credits and courses. OSU offers articulation of some of their programs, meaning that courses will transfer based on level and satisfy the same number of hours as the original college. For example, if an engineering student took ENGR 245 at UCC, the course would be equivalent to ENGR 248 at OSU.

If students are unsure of the type of career or degree they want to pursue, they can visit the UCC website’s career resources page. The page offers links to assessments that can guide students based on their strengths towards a possible career path that suits their abilities.

Although using these materials doesn’t guarantee finding a career, the results of the online assessments can provide constructive feedback that students can share with academic advisors to get assistance in choosing a career field and degree path.

One of the UCC website’s links to their assessments portrays Peyton Manning’s strengths.
Photo by Peyton Manning / The Mainstream

After finding a suitable degree path, students can take a step further and contact professionals at the university of their choice or at workplaces associated with their career choice. Worthington gave an example when she investigated becoming a pastry chef.

“I thought, ‘I will be a pastry chef,’ and I knew someone who knew someone,” she said. “I met them at three in the morning because that’s when they started at the bakery. I knew in 15 minutes that I couldn’t do the job. There were heavy bags of flour, and I had some limitations there.”

Worthington was dissatisfied with the bakery, but she learned more about herself.

She figured out that she enjoys seeing the success and progress of other people and her work, leading her to a position as an academic advisor. She now urges other students to call and ask questions of professionals. She also suggests shadowing, practicing or observing within an institution or business to have hands-on experience.

Students seeking advising assistance in choosing a degree path should know that UCC advisors provide resources and guidance without choosing the student’s career path for them.

Ruch said, “I think students really need to pick their own goals and directions, and it’s my job to give them advice.”

For more information on discovering a career or degree path, students can set up a meeting with the advising counselors through Advisortrac or by calling 541-440-4610. They will provide personalized resources and guidance.

To discover universities and find more information on transferring, students can set up a meeting with Ruch and visit the UCC website’s transfer education page. Oregon Transfer Days also has a spring fair on Wednesday, April 21,  where students will have the opportunity meet with representatives from in-state universities.

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