Nontraditional student trying to go to school for kinesiology
August 15, 2018 4:44 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend, age 29, dropped out of high school and got his GED. He has been taking courses at the local community college and is interested in transferring to the local state university's kinesiology program. Questions inside.

BF is good at school and tests well. He took a college prep course load in HS, but dropped out in his last semester due to mental health issues. Fast forward 10+ years, and he has been taking pre-reqs at the community college for a physical therapy/kinesiology track-- he has worked for 3 years as a youth climbing coach and is interested in getting the credentials to continue working in this general area with maybe more of an emphasis on one-on-one coaching and injury recovery.

He is the first in his family to take college courses and he is struggling to navigate the system of transfers and requirements. (I am also in over my head, as I just took the honors course load in high school, got a decent financial aid package and went straight to a liberal arts college-- pretty straightforward.)

I have some specific questions-- I know these may not be answerable without knowing the specifics, but any guidance is appreciated. We are in the US.

-Assessing the competitiveness of programs-- With such a nontraditional background, it's difficult to tell if he'd be a competitive candidate for the kinesiology program that he's looking at. What would be the best way to go about assessing that? Should he try to talk to someone at admissions, or at the department about their admission criteria?

-General resources to help him navigate this-- are there any? He tried to schedule an appointment with admissions at the university but didn't hear back. I've encouraged him to schedule an appointment with the transfer office at the community college. Any other places or resources that might be helpful?

-Making up requirements from high school. Looking at the local Uni requirements, the only things he thinks he doesn't have are all 4 units of English (he has 3.5 years from HS, but has taken an intro composition course at the community college-- would that work for this potentially?) and 2 units of a foreign language (he has 1.5 of Latin, and could likely also pass an exam for Spanish due to out-of-school studying-- is testing out a thing that could potentially be an option?) If he needs to take classes to make these up, is the best route to just make these up at the CC?
I also welcome any other thoughts on going to college late in the game or on PT/kinesiology education/career paths.

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Education (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
he can probably get a pretty good idea of what would transfer to the school he is interested in by looking online. most schools will have a part of their website where you can cross reference these things.

other than that, admissions is the best resource.
posted by domino at 6:35 AM on August 15, 2018

The vast majority of the many college students I’ve met at several universities (as a student, instructor and researcher) have all had some decent amount of help navigating admissions, usually from someone who knows a bit more about it, usually a family member.

So I wouldn’t give him or you a hard time about that. This stuff is complex, and it’s exactly these kinds of barriers that make it hard for anyone approaching college as a first-in-family. It’s easier to get in someplace when you have the privilege of prior experience of multiple generations, and I would not recommend withholding assistance in the name of “he’s got to learn on his own”, because the fact of the matter is, most people don’t.

Generally, non-traditional students are somewhat more attractive than traditional students, given the same “on paper” qualifications. They are usually a little more focused, graduate on time more often with less dropouts and all that is good for a school’s bottom line statistics. So that may be encouraging: good luck!
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:46 AM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

Should he try to talk to someone at admissions, or at the department about their admission criteria?

He wants to talk to someone at the departmental level. If they're a good program, they'll have advisors who meet with both current and potential students (especially if they're competitive admissions). They're the ones who can tell him what he needs, what his odds are, if he needs to do shadowing hours or if his work experience will count for that, etc.

I would stop worrying about the nontrad part; many allied health programs at this point prefer nontrad students because they are more likely to know what they want and have related work experience (see also, all the incoming first year students I see over the summer who want to be doctors 'because they want to help people'. They just literally don't have the experience to know what doctoring is actually like, at all; it's not their fault). But he does need to talk to an advisor so that his application can check all the boxes they're looking for.
posted by joycehealy at 6:49 AM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

A lot of this will depend on the school he wants to go to. Is it a public or private university? Which 4 year programs have a transfer agreement with his 2 year school (for example, a lot of Arkansas schools signed an agreement that lists what CC courses automatically count as transfer credit to encourage people to continue their education...that list is found online)? If the school he wants to attend accepts a GED for admission, he may not have to worry about the HS credit requirements (but may have to take some remedial classes). He needs to schedule an appointment with the Transfer Admissions Specialist at the university he wants to attend...that person should be identified on their website and should have an email address. Same for meeting with the person at his CC that assists students transferring to a 4 year program. He needs to show up with his GED, high school transcript, and most recent college transcript in hand so they can evaluate what might transfer and what might not.

In terms of figuring out if a program is competitive, look at the website for that program. A lot of Bachelor's in Kinesiology programs aren't competitive...if you meet the prerequisite requirements you can major in it (lots of college athletes major in Kin so they can be sport coaches themselves). The program website would say something like "we only take 10 students in the major a year" and "here's how to apply for the program" if they are selective. He can also search for his state's Kinesiology or Athletic Trainer association (or similar) and see what information they have.

ETA: Bachelor's programs at public universities (especially those with big sports programs) probably aren't competitive. Master's programs would be...that's an entirely different discussion.
posted by MultiFaceted at 6:55 AM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’m not sure how works for kinesiology programs but you might also want to check out whether there’s some type of accreditation for the programs.

For example, I’m a grad student in a public health master’s program and for most jobs in my field they really care that you graduated from a program that has been accredited by the ASSPH. This means you also take a standardized national comprehensive exam to get the degree. It also shows employers that you graduated from a school that met these national educational criteria for the quality of their program.

My 2 seconds of Googling brought up this org as one that might help give you a sense of what a kinesiology program should offer if accredited by this group.
posted by forkisbetter at 8:03 AM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

1. He should speak with a course counselor at his community college. Navigating this for students is their literal job because it's really difficult to do.

2. can also help him figure out which classes transfer to the university. Chances are the counselor will use this in his appointment.

3. If his mental health is still a factor and he's being treated, he could get additional assistance from the disability resource center. They give me a little more hand-holding than the regular counselors.

They also can give in-class accommodations. I think I have a list of all the accommodations my school offers. Memail me if you think it might be relevant and I can dig it up tonight. [I failed my first semester of college because I stopped treating my ADHD.]
posted by meemzi at 9:33 AM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding talking to the school's Disability Support Services to get accommodations made.

They will probably require documentation from a medical doctor who is treating/did treat their conditions. But once that's received, they should help you out. I found that the increased test taking, and also the ability to take tests in a room by myself, to be immensely helpful when I was in school.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

The high school remediation requirements vary by university (and would likely only exist at all at public universities). I would echo the notes above that many public universities have articulation agreements with community colleges such that if he completes a set course of study (usually leading to an associate's degree), then all of his coursework for the first 2 years of the bachelor's would transfer. Some agreements even included guaranteed admission to a university with a certain GPA in the associate's degree. I would highly encourage looking into this as it is a great deal financially to pay less for community college courses and to know that he won't lose time due to coursework not transferring.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:16 AM on August 16, 2018

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