Choosing the right classes

A solid academic foundation lays the groundwork for your child's future. Throughout school, encourage your child in reading, writing, math, and science. These subjects provide the building blocks for further education and give more choices later on. In addition to the "basics," encourage your child to pursue other subjects such as art, music, computer science, health, physical education, and professional technical. These expand interest, skills, and knowledge and build important values.

Choosing the right classes in college

By the time a young person enters college, a parent may believe, or simply hope, the career path is clear. After all, you are paying for it! However, most young people are taking very circuitous paths to their postsecondary degrees:

Studies of graduation rates suggest that when students change colleges or majors purposefully, their chances of completing their degrees are not negatively affected. Students who simply change because of lack of success (low grade point or few credits earned) are much more likely to quit school before earning a degree.

Another important factor that contributes to success and persistence in college is the number of credits a student completes in their first year. Students who have at least 20 credits after their first year are much more likely to complete their degree than students who do not. Even for part-time students, 20 credits is an achievable target.

Postsecondary institutions (colleges, universities, community colleges, and career schools) spell out their course requirements for degrees and certificates. Many schools have general education requirements that all students must meet. Then, students must also meet the requirements for their specific program of study or major. In order to complete all of these requirements within four years for a bachelor's degree or two years for an associate degree, your student needs to be planful about his or her course selections. Here are some hints:

If your student is planning to transfer from one institution to another, some credits may not transfer. Oregon community colleges and public universities have worked together to define an agreed upon set of transfer requirements. If students follow these guidelines, after completing the AA degree at the community college they will transfer with junior standing. However, they may not have junior standing in their major. It is critical that students discuss their education plans with advisors at both the community college and the 4-year institution and plan their course of study accordingly.