General Admission vs. EOPGeneral Admission vs. EOP
When Lisa Escobio received her acceptance letter for SUNY New Paltz, she was extremely excited because it was the number one school she wanted to attend.
She was anxious for Summer Orientation because she wanted to know what college was going to be like and she wanted to meet new people. “I was really looking forward to a fresh start,” Escobio said.
Now, as a second year general admission student, Escobio wants more from New Paltz because of the amount of money that she pays for tuition. As an incoming freshman, Escobio was not enrolled in any programs such as EOP, SMP, AMP, or C-Step.
“At first, I did not think it was a big deal, but as time passed and I made friends who were a part of these programs, I realized that being a general admission student had major setbacks,” Escobio said.
Her major concern is the academic advising department for general admission students.
“During orientation, they were not very helpful,” Escobio said. “I felt very rushed and lost most of the way. I mean what do they expect, I was just out of high school and I was no where near used to college at all.”
A recurring problem at New Paltz, is the lack of guidance that general admission students receive from the Academic Advising Department.
Orientation is where academic advising begins. All students come in as undeclared majors. If they are interested in fields such as business, engineering, or other sciences then they will be sent to the adviser for that major right away.
This adviser will immediately enroll them in classes under that major to enable them to graduate on time. However, the lack of advisers disables them to form a relationship with each student because there are way too many. The problem will affect students later on if they realize that the major was not meant for them.
If students want to major in other fields such as psychology, theater, sociology, etc. then they will sign up for general education classes. These classes are required to be fulfilled by all students no matter what major they choose, however they can also be used to give students a feel of what that major is like.
If students want to remain undeclared, then they will simply take a few general education classes and classes that simply interest them during their freshman year. This will enable them to decide what career they want to choose.
The problem is, many students may think that orientation will guide them through everything they need to know. When in fact, most of them will feel as if they were rushed through the entire process.
“Some things can go extremely right with academic advising and some things can go extremely wrong,” said Mary Beth Collier the Interim Dean of Academic Advising. “It all depends on the individual faculty member and the students’ cooperation as well. We are also working to make sure that all students receive good advising.”
One program that is beneficial financially and academically to students is the Educational Opportunity Program, also known as EOP. This program is for students who come from an economically or educationally challenged background. Upon acceptance into New Paltz, students will be notified if they are accepted into EOP as well.
These students are guided from the very first day they come to New Paltz, beginning during orientation. They have a special adviser that meets with them separately. This adviser already knows their background and also has copies of their high school transcripts and their supplemental essays, which were required to enter the program, at hand.
Based on the information that the adviser knows about the student, they help them choose a direction they want to go to in terms of picking classes or a major. The adviser also gives them a brief synopsis of available classes.
One beneficial class that all EOP students are required to take is Key Issues. This class is taught by their own adviser and it teaches them skills such as time management, how to write research papers, and how to deal with college life. It also helps students pick a major that is right for them through various projects.
The EOP Program has a set mission that they try to fulfill. “Our mission in advising is to be as comprehensive as possible,” EOP Director Antonio Bonilla said. “We do so by giving students a basic understanding of what is required of a student to graduate.”
The EOP Program teaches their students to learn who they are. This will directly help them in the job force and also with the real world. They teach them interview skills, resume building, how to interact with people, and how to convey messages.
“We try to make students feel as if EOP is their family away from home,” Bonilla said. The best way they can do this is by having a small number of students to each adviser. There are seven professional advisers and about 80 students for each one. This enables the students and the advisers to form a strong bond. Students are required to meet with their advisers many times throughout their freshman year in order to make sure that they are going on the right path.
Although EOP may not be a perfect program, it definitely helps students tremendously. It offers students more guidance than other departments. Every time Escobio hears one of her friends who is a part of the EOP Program she always says, “I wish I was a part of EOP.”
© 2009 Michelle Feliciano