On guidance and self-motivation
Only 14% of students at Rhode Island College graduate within four years. To many, this is old news; a quaint fact about our little school to be met with rueful laughs and the shaking of heads. But with the start of a new school year, and the concurrent influx of freshmen, comes yet another opportunity to address this frankly unsettling statistic.
As anyone who has been at RIC for long can tell you, the root of this problem lies in the guidance offered to students. Advisors are well-meaning, but many are not trained in the skills necessary to actually advise, and this too often leads to a lack of reliable direction for students to follow on the road to graduation. People take unnecessary classes, don’t take enough classes, or realize too late that they want to change majors and end up staying at RIC for a lot longer than they’d anticipated.
That said, we can’t pin all the blame on other people. At the end of the day, we as students are responsible for our own academics and need to do our best to sidestep the aforementioned issues.
Academic awareness is the key factor in this dilemma. Simply being informed about the requirements of your major is not just a good idea, it’s also very much your responsibility as a student. Even the best advisors should be there to tweak and supplement your existing academic plan, not build it from scratch because you couldn’t be bothered. Keep an eye on your transcripts, double– and triple– check your major and general education requirements on the RIC website; try to stay generally informed about the gritty details of how you get from enrollment to graduation. The “class search” function on MyRic is a bit obtuse, but using it to plan classes well in advance can be the difference between a focused four years and an uncertain six. You don’t need to know your entire course plan from freshman to senior year right off the bat, but it’s a good idea to at least keep the big picture in mind.
Once you have the awareness, the next thing you need in order to keep your stay as short as possible is the motivation to follow through. The fact is this: maintaining your academic plan with minimal guidance is hard work. There will be details you miss, there will be times when you may have to scrap and rearrange half of your schedule, but in the end, knowing that you are in charge of your future and being able to trust that you are up to the challenge is worth the extra work required. We can spend all day complaining about the shortcomings of RIC’s advising program, but it is ultimately up to us, and no one else, whether we graduate in a timely fashion or get bogged down in planning errors. They say that if you want something done, you’ve gotta do it yourself, and nowhere is that more true than at Rhode Island College.