Choosing Programs and Classes

My daughter plans to spend two years at Prairie State and then transfer to a four-year university. How can we be sure all of her courses will transfer? And will there be anybody to help her decide where to transfer when she is ready?

Prairie State College is a full participant in the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), which ensures that all our courses with an (IAI) designation (indicated in the catalog and schedules) are guaranteed to transfer to over 100 participating public and private colleges and universities in Illinois. Be sure your daughter tells her counselor that she intends to transfer so she will be enrolled in an Associate of Arts (A.A.) Associate of Science (A.S.), or an Associates in Fine Arts (A.F.A.) degree program. The courses in these two degree programs are equivalent to courses taken in the first two years of any four-year college program.

There are many opportunities on campus for students to explore their transfer choices. We sponsor two college fairs on campus each year so students can talk with representatives from a variety of public and private institutions. In addition, counselors from a number of Chicago-area colleges and universities schedule regular visits to campus to talk with prospective students.

My daughter plans to spend only two or three semesters at PSC. Is there anything she needs to know to help her plan her transfer before she gets her associate’s degree?

Yes. All students who plan to transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree should complete the General Education Core Curriculum (GECC), which is 12-13 courses from 5 different areas (communications, mathematics, science, social science and humanities) at PSC. Then they can transfer to any IAI-participating university and their general education requirements will be fulfilled.

My daughter attended a small private high school with small classes. I’m worried that she’s going to feel lost in college, especially in the large lecture classes.

Your daughter will feel very comfortable at PSC. We don’t have any large lecture halls on campus! Our average class size is 20, and our largest classes have 34 students. All of our classes are taught by professors; there are no graduate teaching assistants (TA’s) at Prairie State. Our professors have chosen to teach at a community college because they want to focus on teaching, not research. They try to get to know students as individuals. Encourage your daughter to drop by to see her professor during office hours, even if she is not having a particular problem.

My son never really liked his high school classes. He prefers hands-on technical courses to academic coursework, but I want to be sure he gets some kind of college degree.

PSC offers a number of two-year, career and technical education programs designed to prepare students for the workplace. These degrees (Associate of Applied Science) are available in fields ranging from automotive technology, welding, fire science, physical trainer and CAD to computer technology, Web design, programming, and networking. There are also AAS degrees in areas like criminal justice, early childhood education, business, photography, and graphic design. It has been our experience that, if a student has this type of interest, it is best for him to start out with courses in that area rather than enrolling primarily in general education courses. Students who begin with courses that interest them are much more likely to persist. There are also a number of short-term certificates that students can earn as they pursue the AAS degrees. These certificates serve as milestones for students and help them find jobs.

  • Visit the Counseling and Academic Advising Center for assistance or call (708) 709-3506
My daughter is very interested in a health career. Can she start right out in the nursing, surgical technology or the dental hygiene program?

Our health programs all have a selective admissions process; admission to PSC does not guarantee admission to a health program. Be sure that your daughter stops by the Enrollment Services Office to pick up the informational booklet(s) about the program(s) that interest her. The booklets will outline the course prerequisites, application procedures, and deadlines. Typically students begin by taking the required prerequisite courses (e.g., anatomy and physiology, CNA) and then apply for program admission in February. We strongly urge students to go see the coordinators of these programs to get all of their questions answered and to learn more about the career opportunities in these fields. If your daughter is accepted in the dental hygiene program, she will begin those classes the following summer. All nursing and surgical technology students begin their coursework in the fall.

My son did very well in high school and took mostly honors courses. I’m wondering what type of classes would be best for him at PSC?

He’s an excellent candidate for our Honors Program. Eligible students are encouraged to register in honors classes beginning their very first semester. We offer a wide range of honors courses which require a different kind of work, but not more work. In fact, students can fulfill nearly all of their general education courses in the Honors Program. Enrollment in honors classes is limited to 18 students, so the classes are highly interactive and give students the opportunity to get to know their professors and other honors students well.

  • Sarah Hein, Transfer Counselor, (708) 709-3508
Will my son/daughter receive credit for the AP courses he/she took in high school?

If your child got a score of 4 or 5 on their AP tests, they should have the scores sent to the College and then discuss with a counselor which courses they will be given credit for at PSC. Contact Counseling and Advising for more information on AP credit.

  • Diane Janowiak, Director, Advising and Disability Services, (708) 709-3603
My son has a full-time job this summer and he would like to continue working after school starts. Do you think that will be a problem?

That depends. If your son wants to be a full-time student and complete an associate’s degree in two years, he will have to cut back on his work schedule. According to a recent national study, most college students can work up to 20 hours without affecting their performance in school. However, when students try to combine college with working more than 20 hours, their college work suffers and their academic success is jeopardized. The number of hours spent in class in college can be very misleading. Although a full-time college student generally spends only 12-18 hours a week in class, he is expected to do much more work outside class than he did in high school. We try to teach students the “2 for 1" rule: for every hour spent in class, plan to spend two hours outside class. It is also important for students to arrange their work schedules well in advance so that they do not conflict with their class schedule.

My daughter has no idea what she wants to major in. Is that a problem?

Many students begin college undecided about their major and a whopping 60% of college students change their major at least once. We encourage students to explore a variety of courses and find out what interests them and where they can be most successful. We offer workshops and seminars on career exploration, and all students do some career research as part of their Communications 101 course. Students are also encouraged to seek out the advice of their counselor or advisor or use the services of the Career Development Center.

  • Tamika Manson, Career Counselor, (708) 709-3512