Wednesday, December 03, 2014
As a faculty member, if your field falls within Social Science, or Humanities, or another generic transfer major, you advise students in these majors regardless of whether or not their future goal relates to your field. A professor of mythology and folklore, for example, might advise a Humanities major who is transferring to get a BA in Spanish, and a History professor might advise a Social Science major whose ultimate goal is a Bachelors in Social Work.
An example of an error would be giving generic advice to a first semester freshman about taking a basic computer course that is perfect for a history major but is redundant for an education major (specific required course) or a business major (different specific course), and none of those are right for a future science or computer science major. Poof. There goes 3 credits that will cost money to duplicate.
We only have a single AA "General Transfer" major, but we have a number of well-defined generic tracks within that major that basically define electives that are requirements. Students must pick one of these and identify the transfer school and major. Those choices are clearly present in our computer system.
We once had things like AA "Pre engineering", but got rid of it because the admin folks simply didn't want to do the extra accreditation work. They had their hands full with all of the AS majors plus huge difficulties trying to make it match some small but non-trivial differences between different transfer schools.
You can't really have an English major or an Engineering major because you don't grant degrees in those fields, and if you try to get too specific you will be OK transferring to school Z but not to school Q. What you really need to do is match what is required by most schools that will ultimately grant those degrees, particularly in the first semester or two, and have a few technical elective choices to get it right during the last semester. This is more about defining tracks and getting students on them as early as possible than it is about actually having majors.
The generic community college degree is pretty worthless for engineering transfer students. They don't need all their gen-ed taken care of before they transfer. What they need is solid education in math, physics, chemistry, computer science, and biology—the things that the engineering students at the 4-year colleges take in their first two years.
In California, we refer to the usual community college advising as the IGETC mistake. (IGETC stands for something like Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum.) Students who make the IGETC mistake are a year or more behind on technical subjects when they transfer, and have to take a purely technical load after transferring, with no lighter-weight general education courses to ease their workload.
Recommend to students planning to transfer into science or engineering programs to load up on math and science courses (plus some writing courses) and leave the rest of their general education until after they've transferred.
Our problem is that most of our pre-engineering students are not prepared to start in calc 1, let alone calc 2, as freshmen as the university's schedules assume. They often have a semester or even two before they are ready for calculus, particularly if they are veterans returning from 4 years of service and several tours overseas. They will complete all of the gen ed classes, and even the AA, before they are prepared to transfer. Most finish calculus and physics after the AA but before transferring. (Even if they transfer, they still have to pass those classes before they can take courses in their major.) I do my best to make sure they know what they face and to manage the load after they transfer. Forwarned is forearmed.
It isn't the gen ed curriculum that is the problem. That said, most other students also take little but engineering classes in their last two years. Sort of goes with the territory.