Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Transportation during College

There are several modes of transportation available to students enrolled in a college or university. How you choose to get around campus is a decision entirely up to you.

Cars, Trucks, and Automobiles

The first thing that students may think of is driving a vehicle. Schools are very specific about students driving on campus. Students must present a valid driver's license, valid insurance, and be enrolled in courses in order to obtain a parking permit. This parking permit allows students to park in designated parking areas on campus. Depending on which parking permit you purchase will determine where you are able to park on campus. Some types of permits are available for older students, those that do not live on campus in a dorm, or faculty members. Larger schools tend to have an overabundance of drivers on campus, but not necessarily have enough parking spaces. This means that you may have to sacrifice parking location to actually park your vehicle. If you are planning on driving a vehicle to campus, this will be something that you want to account for in your daily schedule. If you decide to park in a different location that you are not permitted to park in, you may receive a parking ticket from campus police. You will need to pay a fine to the campus. If you receive too many parking tickets and/or refuse to pay your fines, you may face a few different situation. One, they may revoke your parking permit. Two, they may tow your vehicle or put a boot on the tire of your vehicle. Three, they may restrict your ability to register for classes for the next semester or your ability to graduate until the fee is paid in full. The campus police do not discriminate, and will give parking tickets to those that have incorrect parking permits or those that do not have any parking permits. Do your best to follow the parking signs.

Travelling on campus

While the modes listed above are typically used to get a student to campus on their own accord, there are different modes of transportation students will use while on campus. Walking, bike riding, skateboards/rollerblades, and even scooters are options that students will use to travel from one class to another class. There are several benefits for you, as the student. Travelling on campus through these methods is often quicker for students. You do not have to worry about finding parking when you are trying to get to class on time. Some schools even have different bike paths and walking paths to help keep you safe, regardless on which mode you are using. These modes of transportation are also good forms of exercise. A brisk walk between classes will help re-energize your mind and help prepare you for your next class. One thing to keep in mind regarding the use of bikes and scooters is the security of those items. In a car, you would typically lock your door when you park your vehicle. (P.S. -- Get in the habit of locking your car doors.) For bikes and scooters, you will want to purchase a chain and padlock to lock your item up. There will be bike racks outside of your classroom building or dorm, so use that space to lock up your item. Do NOT put your scooter in a "hidden" location within the building because it will get stolen.

Other Modes of Transportation

Depending on the size of the college or university, there may be additional modes of transportation available for enrolled students. School transportation, such as shuttle buses, are great forms of transportation. These will pick you up at a designated bus stop and will offer a variety of stops along the way. School shuttles may even travel to areas where students live in off-campus apartments, and transport you to campus. This would avoid having to drive to campus altogether! Even city buses can be additional modes of transportation. The important thing to keep in mind here is that these buses often run on a set schedule. They will not wait for you if you are late, and they only run at certain times. If you are wanting to use this mode of transportation, obtain a copy of the travel schedule and keep it handy.

Monday, April 29, 2019

All about Meal Plans

Colleges and universities offer students the ability to purchase meal plans. A meal plan is a prepaid account that students can use to purchase meals on-campus. Students that are selecting to live in the dorms are often required to purchase a meal plan. This is to ensure that you have access to food throughout the days you are attending college.

Where can I eat?

Colleges and universities offer food in centralized locations, called dining halls. These dining halls may not be attached to your dorm, so it is important to account for travelling (walking, driving, etc) to get to the dining hall before classes, between classes, and after classes. We will have another blogpost surrounding scheduling your day at a later time, so be on the lookout for that information.

Funding Meal Plans

Funds become available once the term begins. For example, your funds will become available during the fall semester if you are set to begin courses in Fall 2019. Your student ID card is essential for you to carry on you, as most schools will use your ID card as a payment card. You can access your meal plan funds from your student ID card, and will be asked to swipe your card when you checkout.

Options for Meal Plans

Dining halls provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks and small meal-type items between their respective meal times. Dining halls are not opened 24 hours a day, so this is another thing that you will need to make sure that you schedule into your day. Once school begins, they will have meal options 7 days a week until school ends. The school does not provide a one-size-fits-all meal plan option. This means that they will allow you to select a meal plan that fits your eating habits. You can select a meal plan that provides you with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks whenever you need them. Perhaps you are not a breakfast person or you tend to wake up after the breakfast time is over. You can select a meal plan that accounts for that difference. You have control over your meal plan purchase, and this can be changed each year/semester (depending on the school). Here is an important note for incoming freshman. Some colleges or universities will limit your meal plan options. This limitation will just be for the single year, and you can change at a later time. They do this to ensure that you have access to food when you need it.

What if I don't need a meal plan?

If a meal plan is not for you or if you are living off campus and do not need a meal plan, there are still food options for you. Schools typically have a Student Center or a common area where small fast food restaurants are available to students. Some of these options may include Starbucks, Carl's Junior, Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. Check out to the schedule to learn more about when you are able to eat at these locations. Some colleges and universities will also allow you to eat at the dining hall. You will need to check with the school and dining hall for more information.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Housing Options for College & University Students

After you apply to a college or university and receive an acceptance letter, you will need to decide your housing option for the upcoming school year. Some colleges or universities have strict housing options for incoming freshman students. This may include living in certain dormitories (dorms) and/or having specific meal plans. We will discuss meal plans in a later blog post in this series. Some schools do not have these housing restrictions, so you are able to make a flexible decision based on your needs. However, all students will need to make a decision for housing regarding on where they attend or where they live. 

What are dorms?

Dormitories or dorms are essentially residential living facilities for a large number of people. Sometimes these dorms are gender specific or they may allow both genders to live in the same building. An example of a gender specific dorm would be a dorm that houses all girls or all boys. A dorm that allows both boys and girls is called a co-ed dorm. Schools typically will still separate boys and girls within a co-ed dorm (different sides of the building, different floors, etc.). This does not mean that boys and girls will be roomed together. Dorms also have common living areas for students to hang-out together. Some may have study rooms, TV rooms, and even game rooms. Dorms may also have laundry facilities on the premises, so it is important that you learn how to do your own laundry before you leave for college!

What are the different types available?

Each school offers different types or floor layouts of dorm rooms. Some dorm rooms are a single room shared by two people. Others have individual bedrooms and a joint living space available for all roommates. You may have two to four roommates in these types of rooms. If you have certain friends that you are wanting to room with while you are both at school, you can request to have them as a roommate when you complete your housing request. If you don't have a roommate in mind, they will review your application and pair you with someone who has similarities with you. Some schools even offer different living options for families. This specific living option allows the family to live in apartments. Depending on your school, you will have different housing options available to you. Keep in mind that some housing options may be limited to incoming freshman. 

How can you find the right one for you?

Most college websites offer information about housing available on their campus. This may include pictures of floor layouts or digital videos of a "walkthrough" of the different housing options. They will also include information regarding the semester and school year costs related to these housing options. Some scholarships, grants, and student loans can be used to cover housing costs. It is important to review your housing options in relation to your available budget. One other thing to consider when looking in your housing option is the location of the building in relation to your classes and meal options. We will talk more about selecting courses for your first semester in a later post, and distance between classes and your dorm is important to consider.

What if my school doesn't have housing available on campus?

You are faced with an important decision if you are unable to find housing on campus. You will need to find housing off campus. This may be an individual apartment, find some roommates to rent a house or apartment, or living with friends or family. The internet is a great way to start looking for living options. The student center at your college or university may also have a bulletin board of students looking for roommates. Be cautious when you are looking for places to live. If you feel uneasy about something, then that may not be the best choice for you. Your parents are great people to include in this search process, so do this housing search together. 

What if I don't want to live on campus?

This is a tricky question to answer. Some schools offer the ability to apply for an exemption to living on campus. If your family lives in the town that you are going to school and you plan to live with them, you can fill out paperwork to explain that situation. I heard a new one just the other week. If you enter college with having so many completed dual credit college hours, some schools will allow you to apply for the on campus housing exemption and allow you to live off campus. If you fall think you fall into one of these categories, contact the housing department at your college or university and ask them about it. The housing office is a great place to get good information regarding your options. 


Days Until Graduation!!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Sending Final Transcripts

Once you submit all of the requested documentation to your college or university, you will be asked to provide a final transcript. The transcript is the single most important document from your high school career. It includes basic information about you like your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. The rest of the information is the good stuff! The transcript is a record of all courses that you took during high school, the grades you received for those classes, your grade point average (GPA), and your class rank. In Texas, you are required to graduate under certain types of graduation plans. The transcript includes the information on which graduation plan you completed and any endorsements that you received. All of your testing scores are compiled onto your transcript, so you can see from a single document your scores for state testing (End of Course exams), SAT, ACT, and AP exams. 

As a senior, you are not new to seeing your transcript. During our fall senior planning meetings, I reviewed your transcript with you and showed you your GPA and class rank. The information from those preliminary transcripts was provided to help you apply for college and for scholarships. If you look towards the bottom of the transcript, it currently says that you are "Pursuing" a specific graduation plan and endorsement. This means that you have yet to complete all of the requirements to be considered an Iraan High School graduate. But this will change in just a few short weeks!

What is the Final Transcript?

The final transcript is the one that I print AFTER all grades have been posted, AFTER everything has been reviewed and finalized, and AFTER graduation. This final transcript will also receive my signature and is filed away in the event you ever need to receive a copy. Your college or university will need a copy of your final transcript. You will submit a transcript request form to me to request this to be sent to your school. To help make sure that this process is as effective as possible, we send the transcript both digitally (if possible) and physically. The physical copy will also contain an embossed seal on the transcript to indicate the document is an official copy. This means that your school will essentially receive two copies of your transcript. In the event that one is lost, the other is available. It is my way to ensure that you transcript is applied to your college profile.

Sometime between now and May 16th, please fill out a transcript request form. I have included a link here if you want to print a copy and bring it to my office. I will also have copies of the form in my office in the drawer marked "Transcripts" by the table. You will need to provide your name, the school name, the physical mailing address for the school, and then sign the form.

What if I completed Dual Credit Courses?

Your Final Transcript only contains course information from the courses you completed as a high school student. If you were involved in the dual credit program, you will need to contact UTPB to request a college transcript to be sent to your school. This college transcript contains the same basic information as the high school transcript, but contains the courses and grades you received in the College Courses that you completed. This is how you receive credit for completing these courses. For example, if you took English 1301, then you want to be sure that you receive credit for that course. They consider this a transfer credit, because you have completed the course at a different college or university. If you don't send the college transcript to allow those credits to transfer, then you will need to retake those courses. 

Once your final grades have posted at UTPB, you will be able to request the transcript. You will log into your myUTPB account (like we did when we registered for courses), and there will be a section called MyAcademics towards the top. Then navigate to the Order Official Transcript section. You will be asked to provide information about you and your school. There is a fee to have this transcript sent, which is typically less than $10. It is crucial for you to request to have this transcript sent to your college, so don't forget this step.

What if I need a transcript AFTER graduation?

Now, there will be times that you may be asked to provide a copy of your official high school transcript after you graduate. Requests can come from jobs, background checks, military, scholarships, and a variety of other requests. No sweat! We keep both digital and physical copies of your signed final transcript on hand if you ever need it. We also have a specific form for you to fill out to request this transcript. You will be considered an alumni of Iraan High School after you graduate. It is okay if your name changes or your address changes. When you request your high school transcript, you will indicate the appropriate changes and send in the form along with a copy of your valid driver's license, state-issued ID card, or passport. We must verify your identity in order to send transcripts out, as the information that is contained on it is special and needs to be protected. I have included a link here for the Alumni Transcript Request. Take a look at the two so you can see the difference. I also keep copies of this form in my office, if you ever need one after graduation.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Protecting College Students from Bacterial Meningitis

In addition to TSI scores, your college or university may request that you provide proof of receiving a meningitis vaccination prior to enrollment in courses. Let's take a look at what meningitis is and what this means for you, as a college student.

What is Meningitis? Why should I worry?

When Meningitis is discussed in conjunction with college, we are talking about Meningitis B.  While the Meningitis B is an uncommon infection, studies have shown an increase in college-aged students contracting this infection. According to Dr. Robert Glatter (2019), "Meningitis B is a potentially deadly bacterial infection which leads to the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord." Glatter is an emergency physician for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The infection can also lead to sepsis or an infection within the bloodstream. Depending on the severity, the infection can be lethal in less than 24 hours (Medical Express, 2019). The bacteria that causes Meningitis B lives in the nose and throat and can be spread through close contact between individuals (coughing, sneezing, or kissing). Due to the ease on spreading the infection, students that live in college dorms or shared college apartments may become more susceptible than students that do not live in close proximity with others.

How can I protect myself?

Remember, this is an uncommon infection. This means that it does not regularly exist. However, with the right conditions, the infection could occur and spread. Taking the proper precautions to reduce the time being in close proximity with those that are sick, washing your hands, and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, are all ways to help prevent yourself from being sick. However, your efforts are not enough. Thus, colleges and universities have stepped up to plate to help thwart the infection from even being an issues. Colleges and universities may require students that live in dorms or college-provided apartments to receive the Meningitis vaccination. This vaccine helps to protect you from the illness, much like a flu shot helps protect you from getting the flu. Our local clinic, or any doctor's office, can provide you with a Meningitis vaccination. You will receive a confirmation that you have received the vaccine, and you will need to take the document to the school directly or we can email/fax a copy of it over to the school. In most cases, we can send it electronically. If you bring your confirmation sheet into my office, I can help you get the document sent to your school. Colleges and universities

Do I have to get the vaccination?

Depending on your circumstance, you may not be required to receive the vaccination. If your living circumstance is such where you will not be living in a dorm while attending school, you may not be required to receive the vaccination. If there are some personal reasons (health, religious, etc), then you can submit paperwork to exempt you from receiving the vaccination. If you fall into any of these categories, please come by my office. I will help you find the proper paperwork and help you submit the information. This a very personal situation, and some of your reasons can be tricky. Especially if you are trying to navigate your school's website to find more information.