I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now: 3 Tips for College Enrollment

Reading paperwork prior to signing can save one many headaches in the long run (photo courtesy of no_hypothermia on flickr).

Reading paperwork prior to signing it can save you many headaches in the long run (photo courtesy of no_hypothermia on flickr).

If you have ever been home during the week and popped on the TV while cleaning or taking care of the kids, I am sure you have come across an Everest University/College/Institute commercial, or two. Typically filmed in an unusual setting- parking lot, pedestrian bridge, etc.- and featuring a non-traditional “student”, the audience is advised on the reasons why they should contact the school in short, choppy statements.

Well, unfortunately for Everest, a lawsuit has recently been filed with the Hillsborough County Circuit Court on February 6th by a graduate who alleges his degree, and credits, from Everest University are worthless. The graduate references his attempted admission process with Hillsborough Community College as the reason for the suit; HCC would not accept any of the credits earned while enrolled at Everest University, and thus, he was “forced” to finish his degree with Everest.

While situations like this may happen regularly, both involving for-profit institutions and not, it brings up a good point for those seeking to enroll in higher education: always read and understand everything you sign. Had this student followed this advice, he may not be in this same situation.

1. Admissions Representative want you to attend their school

Admissions representatives are the academic equivalent of a retail salesperson, minus the commission. They are employed by the college or university to advise students on the admission process and encourage them to see the benefits in the institution. While they listen to what an applicant’s goals are and explain what the school has to offer, the bottom line is they want you to choose their school over everywhere else. Period.

2. You should never enroll in a school with the intention of transferring elsewhere “eventually”

Higher education institutions do not build degree programs that are “transfer friendly”. The curriculum and requirements are constructed so students begin, maintain enrollment, and graduate following a precise series of courses. When students enroll just to start taking classes, but intend on transferring to another school the process to complete a degree becomes muddy. If/When a transfer must be done, students typically lose credits in the process. This doesn’t happen all the time, but more often than not 40 credits can turn into 24 simply because of the differences in degree program, level, requirements, and flexibility.

3. Read everything before you sign it and ask questions if you do not understand something

While I worked as an Academic Advisor, the biggest mistake I saw students make was signing documents without reading, or reviewing, them. Not just college documents, but paperwork throughout a lifetime should always be read and understood before being signed; once signed an agreement has been made between two (or more) parties. Students in their first few weeks of classes would inquire as to when their graduation date was; the answer “three years based on part time enrollment and credits required” would instantly alter the student’s attitude on the phone. Had they read the documentation given to them throughout the admission process, they would have seen the required credits for their intended degree program and anticipated graduation date based on enrollment status.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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