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DEVELOP a portfolio. Designate a folder or notebook to store the information you gather during this stage of the plan for reaching your educational goal. Quick access to this information will save you time later as you begin the decision making portion of your academic plan.

When you talk with your counselor, consider jotting down some notes about your conversation. If you know what major you plan to pursue, make a copy of the curriculum guide so you have a list of needed classes. You may find this information in your GRCC catalog, transfer guide, or online at our website or that of your intended transfer school. It’s not unusual to be unsure of your educational goal as you begin your academic journey. Consider a career workshop or meet with a career counselor. There is no charge to students for these services and they can be as in-depth as you would like to make them. Another possibility is a career decision making class like CLS 101 or CLS 110, which is taken for credit and does appear on your transcript.

Consider attending the Academic Advising and Transfer Fair which is offered once each fall and winter semester. At this time many four-year colleges and universities across Michigan gather on our campus to meet directly with students. This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions and gather printed information about transfer admissions requirements, educational programs, scholarships, athletics, clubs and organizations, etc; it’s a chance to shop around without leaving town.

Take advantage of the workshops offered by our Counseling, Advising & Retention Services which are available without cost to students. You can develop helpful strategies for preparing for classroom tests, or reduce your stress by examining its sources and learning some relaxation and coping strategies.

Your professors have office hours, a time specifically designated to meet with students one-on-one. This is a great opportunity for you to ask questions about information in your textbook or the lecture that you don’t understand, clarify an assignment or just to further discuss a point you found particularly interesting. It’s also a chance to ask more about that professor’s fi eld of study, if it is an area of interest to you. What does he or she fi nd most interesting about this subject? What fields of employment are associated with a degree in this area and what are the educational degree requirements?

Tutoring support is available on campus in a variety of formats. If you are struggling to master the material in a class, consider tutorial support. It is always a good idea to seek help early, while there is still time to improve your performance.

Finally, in these economic times, some labor market research can be an effective tool in developing an academic direction. There is a wealth of timely information available online regarding an extensive number of career choices. Is the area you are considering increasing, decreasing or remaining unchanged in terms of employment prospects? What degree or training is required? What personal characteristics are a good fi t for this career? What are the working conditions? Where are the jobs and are you willing to relocate if necessary? What is the salary range? Important questions to consider as you chose your academic path and prospective career.

The first step is as simple as making an appointment to meet with a GRCC counselor!

Contributor: Anne Sherman, Counselor – Occupational & Disability Services