BACK SCHOOL. Roane State Community College. A guide for adults returning to the classroom

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1 BACK to SCHOOL A guide for adults returning to the classroom Roane State Community College

2 Welcome This guide is written specifically for adults who have been away from school for a few years, and it provides general advice on navigating all the paperwork and procedures coming your way. You are courageous to consider coming back to school. The good news is that you are not alone. At Roane State, many classes include adult students. Your adult classmates may be changing careers, taking courses for the first time since high school or returning to college after military service. Many adult students have families and jobs, and all are brave to accept the challenge of improving their lives through higher education. Roane State is here to help you achieve your goals. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Enrollment and Recruitment Office at (865) We look forward to serving you. Roane State Community College

3 The Lingo When you go to college, you might hear some new terms. Credit hour or hours : A credit hour refers to the amount of time a class meets per week. For example, many classes are worth three hours, meaning that they meet for about three hours a week. Let s say you sign up for four classes, and each one is worth three hours. How many total hours have you signed up to take? Answer 12 hours. (4 classes x 3 hours per class) General education (Gen Ed) or core classes: These terms refer to the common classes that all students take regardless of their major. For example, whether you want to be a nurse or an engineer, you have to take English classes. RaiderNet: RaiderNet is the name of the Web service that students use to check their Roane State , pay fees, register for classes, etc. A RaiderNet link is on the home page of the Roane State website. Semester: The Roane State academic year is divided into semesters. Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks long. Summer semester consists of full, first and second terms. Full term is eight weeks long. First and second terms are four weeks long. Fall semester runs from August to December. Spring semester runs from January to May. Summer runs from June through July. Roane State also offers intense, three-week Maymester classes, which are held in May between the end of the spring semester and the start of the summer semester.

4 Bits of Advice When you first decide to go back to school, getting started can seem overwhelming. But remember this it s only paperwork. Right now, today, the only thing standing between you and college is paperwork. Paperwork can be time-consuming and annoying, but fundamentally, it s only paperwork. Consider these tips to help you manage the paperwork and the processes that are a part of applying to college, getting financial aid and signing up for classes. 1. Keep a copy of everything: One of the best tools for managing college paperwork is a file folder. After you fill out a form, make a copy and keep it in your folder. When you get a receipt for your tuition bill, tuck it in the folder. Keeping a copy of paperwork makes it much easier to resolve any issues that could occur. 2. Get the name of the person you talk to: Another great tool is a notebook. Keep it with you, and when you talk to a college representative about a question or problem, politely ask for the person s name and jot it down in your notebook along with the date of the conversation and a summary of what the person told you. Why do this? Let s suppose you need to follow up on a question. Consider these scenarios. Which one is better? Scenario 1: Hi, I called and spoke to some lady in the financial aid office a couple of weeks ago about my bill, and I can t remember what she said, but I think there s a problem. Scenario 2: Hi, I spoke with Ellen in financial aid on Jan. 13, and she said my financial aid would be processed by Jan. 20. But, I noticed my bill has not changed and wanted to see if there was a problem. Writing down the name of the person you talked to, the date of the conversation, and a short summary of the information will keep you organized and help college representatives better serve you.

5 3. Start early and proactively follow up: If you develop the habit of getting paperwork turned in well before deadlines, then you will minimize the potential for problems. In addition, it never hurts to call to make sure everything is in order (be sure to get the name of the person you talk to). 4. Ask questions: It s perfectly OK if you do not understand a term or phrase, such as credit hour or FAFSA. Please ask if you sense, deep down inside, that you do not understand. Remember, thousands of adult students come to Roane State, and few are experts in college processes and procedures. It s normal to have questions. 5. Check your Roane State will communicate important information to you through . Check your Roane State frequently and your personal for messages from Roane State. 6. Talk to your advisor: You will be assigned a faculty advisor. Find the person, tell them what you are interested in studying, and stay in touch with them. Advisors are a great resource if you take advantage of them.

6 The Application The first step toward going back to school is to fill out an application online through the Roane State website at The application is pretty straight-forward, but be aware of the following: 1. Shot records: Depending on when you graduated from high school, you may need to show proof of vaccinations. An admissions representative will know what you need. For now, just be aware that this is part of the admissions process. 2. Transcripts: Even if you went to high school or college many years ago, Roane State will need a copy of your transcripts and/ or GED scores. Tracking down transcripts, especially if it s been a few years since you were last in school, can take some time. Give yourself a healthy cushion (a few weeks) between the time you submit the application and the start of classes. 3. Testing: As an adult student, there is a good chance you will need to take what is called the COMPASS test. The test helps the college determine your skill level in subjects such as reading and mathematics. Based on your test results, the college will place you in classes that fit your skill level. 4. Time: Give yourself plenty of it, especially if you have been out of school for a while. Getting through the admissions process may take longer than you expect. Allow plenty of time to turn in your paperwork. Who do I call for help? Before you apply: Student Enrollment and Recruitment (865) After you apply: Admissions and Records (865)

7 Choosing a Degree Roane State awards the Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and certificates. When you select from one of Roane State s dozens of academic programs, you will want to check to see if it leads to an A.A., A.S., A.A.S. or certificate. What is the difference? Here is an explanation to help you select the option that is right for you. Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.): The A.A. and the A.S. are for students who want to transfer to four-year schools. A lot of students come to Roane State for two years and then transfer to a college, such as Tennessee Tech, to finish their last two years and earn a bachelor s degree. If you are interested in earning a bachelor s degree, then an A.A. or an A.S. may be right for you. Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.): The A.A.S. is for students who want to go directly into the workforce after they finish school. If your goal is to start working right after you graduate from Roane State, then the A.A.S. is likely the right choice. Certificates: Certificates are also for students who want to go directly into the workforce after they finish college. For the most part, certificates take less time to complete than associate s degrees. Whether a certificate or associate s degree is right for you depends on your career interests. Make sure you understand the difference between the jobs an associate s degree could qualify you for compared to a certificate. Ask your advisor for help!

8 Financial Aid Now that you have decided to go to college, you will need to decide how to pay for it. The first step is to complete what is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA, for short). If you talk to a financial aid representative at any college, one of the first questions they will ask you is, Have you filled out your FAFSA? What is the FAFSA? It s a form that you complete online remember, it s just paperwork and it is your ticket to financial aid. The form asks for information about you, including your income. You will need your tax return to complete the FAFSA and perhaps other income documents such as W -2 forms. To be eligible for financial aid, you have to fill out the FAFSA, just as to get into a ballgame, you have to have a ticket. The FAFSA is used to determine the aid you are eligible to receive. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the form, and file it early. It s OK to go ahead and fill out the FAFSA, even if you have not decided where to go to college. Filing the FAFSA requires two steps. Step one is to get a PIN number from This takes only a few moments. After you complete the FAFSA online, the PIN serves as a way for you to sign the form electronically. Step two is to fill out the FAFSA form itself online at This part will take some time, so plan ahead by having your income documents organized and setting aside plenty of time to complete the form.

9 Here are a few other FAFSA pointers: Completing the FAFSA is absolutely free. Watch out for websites that offer FAFSA services for a price. Every student s situation is unique in terms of what aid they might be able to receive. Go ahead and make contact with a financial aid representative to discuss your circumstances. Get the name of the person you talk to. There is a difference between a grant and a loan. A grant, such as the Pell Grant, is money you do not have to pay back. A student loan is money that you borrow and pay back over time. Also, keep in mind that scholarships are available through theroane State Foundation and other sources. It never hurts to apply for scholarships it s only paperwork! Who do I call for help? Financial Aid: (865)

10 Taking Classes Roane State offers hundreds of interesting classes. Advisors will assist you with finding the classes that are right for your major and for your schedule. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Know your whole plan: Sit down with your advisor and map out all of your classes, not just the ones you are taking in your first semester. There could be any number of twists and turns along your college path. For example, you may have to finish some courses before you can take others. Developing your personal roadmap early will help you take the right classes and stay on track. Register early, especially if you have a complicated schedule: As a college student, you get to pick your class times. Keep in mind, though, that classes fill up fast. If you have to schedule classes around work, for example, sign up for classes as soon as you can to ensure that you get the times that you want. Go full-time if you can: The odds of graduating drop dramatically for students who only take a few classes at a time. Find a way to go full-time or take as many classes as you can in a semester. With block scheduling you can fit classes into one or two days a week or arrange to only have classes in the mornings or evenings. By taking accelerated courses, you can finish some classes in as few as five weeks. There are many scheduling strategies that will help you fit a full course schedule into your busy life. Who do I call for help? Advising Resource Center (865)

11 By the Way, College is Awesome Enjoy this experience. Go to a play. Watch a basketball game. Attend a concert. Take the time to savor your college experience, whether you are starting at age 21 or 61. Roane State offers study abroad opportunities, lectures by world-class speakers, exciting athletic teams, a host of fun student activities, and some truly fascinating classes taught by experts in their fields. Also, please ask for help if you need it. Roane State has wonderful free tutoring services through the Learning Center. Tutors are available in many subjects, and they work with students one-on-one, in small groups and online. The library staff will leap over the reference desk to help you. The faculty and staff are some of the nicest people you will meet, and they love assisting students. If you find yourself struggling in a class or losing sleep over admissions paperwork, ask for help right away (and, of course, get the name of the person you talk to). Good luck on your college journey you can do it!

12 Roane County Campus (865) (866) ext Oak Ridge Campus (865) (866) Campbell County Higher Education Center (423) (866) ext Cumberland County Higher Education Center (931) (866) ext Fentress County Higher Education Center (931) (866) ext Knox County Center for Health Sciences (865) (866) ext Loudon County Higher Education Center (865) (866) ext Morgan County Higher Education Center (423) (866) ext Scott County Higher Education Center (423) (866) ext This document was funded by funds received under Title I of the Carl D. Perkins Career Center and Technical Education Act of Roane State Community College is a TBR and AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action, 276 Patton Lane, Harriman, TN 37748, (865) , RSCC Publication # ,000 copies printed by Precision Printing and Graphics. Graphic Design Sandi Roberts

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