Getting Started in College

My son told me that he’s filled out an application and there’s nothing else he has to do before he registers for classes in mid-August. Is that right?

No! One of the biggest mistakes new college students make is waiting until the last minute to take care of everything they need to do before classes begin. All new students need to sign up for orientation, placement testing and advising. Students who wait until the last minute often miss the opportunity for an orientation and advising session, and they sometimes can’t get into the classes they want or select the schedule they prefer. Visit the Counseling and Academic Advising Center. No appointment is necessary.

My son told me he would rather register online. Can he do that?

New students need to register in person the first semester. After that, they will be able to use our convenient online registration.

What if my daughter doesn’t do well on the placement test. Can she still go to Prairie State?

Of course. Prairie State is an open admissions college that accepts all students with the ability to benefit from college-level courses. We do, however, require all new students to take the COMPASS Placement Test to determine their level in reading, writing and mathematics. If your daughter scores below college level in any of these areas, she will be successful in her college courses. Our experience – as well as a great deal of research – suggests that students who need and take developmental coursework are more likely to persist and succeed in college than those who fail to address their areas of weakness.

My son did very well in high school, but he never does well on standardized tests. If he doesn’t do well on the COMPASS test, will the advisor consider his high school grades?

All new students must have their high school send an official copy of their final high school transcript to our Office of Enrollment Services. We also encourage all new students to bring an unofficial copy with them when they come for orientation and advising. If your son’s transcript indicates that he completed four years of high school math with high grades, his advisor will take that into consideration when he reviews his placement scores. We are always happy to review and reconsider a student’s placement scores if he has alternative evidence of success (e.g., grade report, high school transcript, ACT, SAT or AP scores).

My son was not a serious student in high school, but he seems to be more focused now. Will his poor grades and high school rank be a problem for him at PSC?

No. Unless your son wants to use his grades (see above) to help determine his placement, his grades and class rank will not be used by the College other than as proof he has fulfilled Illinois high school graduation requirements. In fact, no PSC professor knows – or cares – if a student graduated from the top or bottom of his high school class. Prairie State College provides a great opportunity for students to start fresh and “reinvent” themselves. We’ve had lots of students who did mediocre work in high school but who become excellent college students when they discover their passion and begin to focus on their work.