Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Students get inside info at transfer fair

DSC_9067WSU Online Academic Consultant Joy Thompson, center, with WSU enrollment counselor Kim Mickey.

     Most of the young people in the Spokane Falls Community College student lounge on Monday morning aren’t talking. They’re typing on laptops and tapping on phones. But, in a large room off to the side, representatives from 15 colleges and universities are holding a transfer fair.
     Live people? Isn’t that antiquated in the Internet generation? Why don’t students simply go online?
     Part of the answer is personal contact, says Loren Pemberton, chair of the counseling department at SFCC. Appearances notwithstanding, people still want to talk with other people, especially about such crucial matters as a university degree.
     The other part, he says, is strictly pragmatic. Students can’t always get the right answers online, because they may not have the right questions. Sometimes they don’t know where to start, he said. Or it may be a problem of terminology, such as distinguishing between associate of arts (A.A.) and associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degrees.
     “Often when they ask me a question, I’ll say ‘Did you mean’? And they say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s what I meant,’ ” Pemberton says. More...     Helen Naho’opi’i, transfer advisor at Gonzaga University, also says live people are better at providing direction and precise advice.
     “Students go to the website expecting to have all their questions answered, but not really knowing what to ask,” she says. “It’s our job to guide them through the process, even give them information that might not be on the website, like inside advice about who to talk to about certain programs.”
     Monday’s transfer fair was sponsored by Washington Council for High School-College Relations, which holds fairs at more than 30 community colleges each year. A schedule can be found on the group’s website.
     Joy Thompson represented WSU’s online degree program at Monday’s fair. She helped a couple of business students figure out how to transfer to WSU Online, then met a woman who really didn’t want to sit in a classroom.
     “She has a bad back,” Thompson says. “When she learned about WSU Online, she said, ‘So, I can actually get through my classes without being in pain?’ And then her eyes lit up.”
     Here’s a schedule of future WSU Online events.

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