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Where can I find a university/life adviser?
November 16, 2012 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Is there some sort of 'career/life counselor' out there that can help me navigate college/university programs and requirements after dropping out last year?

Background:
I was attending the University of Waterloo for Engineering (which is fairly prestigious I guess) and had a shaky first semester, but passed aside from failing two classes. Second semester (after a semester of co-op), I was struggling and feeling depressed, so temporarily withdrew and took a non-degree term in the fall to clear my fails and I took an extra two 'fun' classes. 4 months off until the Spring term to complete semester 2. Bombed the semester, and would be permitted to repeat it. I could not afford to do that again, so ultimately I dropped out.

Now I am researching going back to school and am looking at a range of programs. Was hoping I could apply as a 'mature student', but now am finding some of the schools requirements to be very different from others (i.e. 2 years out of school vs 5, etc.) I find it quite confusing, and it is hard to know where to begin.

I also know that there are many details/paths to degrees that are not well known (starting at a college, finishing at a university, for example).



I would like to find someone who can help me navigate these program requirements, and help me make the best (unbiased) decision possible.

Would love specific references to individuals I can work with, but wouldn't mind knowing 'what to Google'. Searching for 'life coaches' doesn't really get me anywhere.

(And am open to any other advice, really.)

I'm in Southwestern Ontario.
posted by Huck to Education (11 answers total)
 
First I would try to figure out why you were struggling/depressed the first time around. Maybe see a counselor or therapist?

I was in the same situation as you and ended up going to school on and off for many years because I had horrible depression and anxiety. Now with the help of medication I finally feel like I can really tackle school this time around and not be a total mess.

But that was my particular situation, and your reasons could be totally different - like maybe engineering program wasn't for you/different than you thought it would be? That's why I suggest examining why you were having problems so you don't end up repeating the pattern.
posted by littlesq at 8:47 PM on November 16, 2012


One of your best options will be actually calling or sitting down with people at these universities. You would probably go to a transfer admissions counselor or academic dean. They will know the best paths to take, and the admissions counselors should be honest with you about a) your chance of getting in and b) alternate ways to do so, such as going to a small college and transferring to a university.

If I were you, I would make a spreadsheet to compare many of your options: location, cost, support services, time needed to complete the degree (don't forget that certain required classes are only offered in, say, spring or fall), etc. Each program should be able to tell you which classes you'll need for the degree, and if you list those courses as well, you should be able to see patterns in terms of which classes may be offered at other schools (which you might be able to take either before you go to university, online, or during a summer term). That can help you find the best value in less essential classes. The admissions folks can tell you which colleges nearby may work the best with the university's systems.
posted by Madamina at 8:48 PM on November 16, 2012


Oh, and yes -- everyone will want to know if you know why you messed up and if that problem has been taken care of.

I work for a university, formerly in admissions, and was previously married to an academic dean who "decided whether the kids lived or died," as he so kindly put it. They want to help you come back and succeed.
posted by Madamina at 8:50 PM on November 16, 2012


A private college counselor is probably a good route. They can be pricey but you can probably work out something reasonable as you have a better idea of what you are looking for than your average high-schooler. There is an association (the college counselor I used belongs to it) that seems to have someone in your area (YMMV).
posted by radioamy at 9:13 PM on November 16, 2012


I called the student counselor for my degree program at the university I dropped years previous. They were incredibly helpful and practically bent over backwards (I was even in another state) helping me plan how to finish my degree.
posted by carsonb at 10:09 PM on November 16, 2012


The only answers you can rely upon (and even then, sometimes you can't) will be from the universities you intend to apply to. Go straight to them and meet with a counselor in person.
posted by twblalock at 11:07 PM on November 16, 2012


Have you looked into any of the newcomer/settlement services? The ones in my area are open to everyone, not just New Canadians, and they are pretty good at evaluating the different programmes/routes to get what you want out of school. Maybe you already know, but what do you want and how do you expect school to help you get there? A database that has up to date info on Canadian careers (earnings, career progression, related careers, and educational route - naming the specific colleges and university's and the programme names) is called career cruising, it is available at your public library.
posted by saucysault at 4:55 AM on November 17, 2012


The only answers you can rely upon (and even then, sometimes you can't) will be from the universities you intend to apply to. Go straight to them and meet with a counselor in person.

This is... not true. A good private college counselor will be familiar with a variety of programs and access routes and their changing requirements.

Huck, are you in treatment for the depression? Because one thing you need to look at in this mix is what is different this time that is likely to help you have a different outcome. "Not lugging around untreated depression" would be a good starting point, as would things like "acquired rudimentary study skills" or other practical changes if those were previously issues.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:52 AM on November 17, 2012


I should rephrase about feeling depressed. Not depression, more of a 'ugh, I hate all these people and am overwhelmed and ahh I need a job and stressed out and this is not the right fit right now" sort of thing. Maybe feeling 'out of place' would be better wording?

I feel the best change in restarting/feeling I can succeed will be more financial planning/preparedness, a more flexible program. Study skills are better now.

Thanks for all the answers thus far!
posted by Huck at 7:31 AM on November 17, 2012


You're best option is to email various academic advisors. Explain the situation to them, let them know that you're interested in going back to school, and ask them what the requirements are for someone that's in your position. I don't think you'd be able to apply as a mature student to most programs because you haven't been out of school for a long enough time.

Have you thought about going back to the University of Waterloo? They might accept you since they initially admitted you into one of their programs. Mind you, I'm doubtful that they'd let you go back into engineering if that was your plan. But, you could always contact one of their advisors.
posted by livinglearning at 7:54 AM on November 17, 2012


Also, I am not looking to apply for Fall 2013. Probably looking more at Fall 2014/2015.
posted by Huck at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2012


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