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Santa Rosa Junior College Counseling Flaws

We live in an area where we have the benefit of a fairly high quality Junior College. Many students the decision to attend Junior College following high school affords them the opportunity to (1) save money for college transfer (2) work on taking basic classes that they would be required to take at any 4 year institution and (3) figure out what major they want to pursue by taking a variety of classes. Exercising all of these options is, in my opinion, making good use of our local institution. However, my experience over the last 30 years with Santa Rosa Junior College has left me with some reservations regarding the college counseling that many student receive while attending. Although SRJC's music department now has an applied music program and "music major" complete with private lessons, I think the same fundamental flaws will continue to exist, at times, in the counseling process outside the music department. These difficulties have to do with the counseling process, not the music department or the transfer process.

Flaw #1
All SRJC students transfer to state or UC schools within California.

Many students are not interested in transferring to a school within either of these systems or within the state. Unfortunately, SRJC is not set up as well to assist students who may be interested in out of state schools or private institutions. The credit and transfer system is simply constructed for this purpose. IF these are your plans, make arrangements for running into some "snags" because this is generally the way the SRJC counseling system is oriented. Poor advice from counselors is potentially one of the most difficult issues students anywhere may face. Counselors MAY have a bias in the manner in which they disbrurse information that may favor in-state college transfer.

Flaw #2
If classes are good enough for the state or UC system, they are good enough for any school.

This is simply not true. In my own case, I wasted GE credits and time in classes that did not transfer to the private college I wound up attending due to a lack of simple, clear guidance.

Flaw #3
Music classes transfer to other schools just like any other class.

If a student decides to be a music major, he usually hopes that the music classes he is taking will transfer and he will enter as a Junior. Here is a little reality check: MOST MUSIC COURSES WILL NOT DIRECTLY TRANSFER TO ANY MUSIC PROGRAM ANYWHERE. This is a key factor that few college counselors at any school are willing (or knowledgeble enough) to admit. Music courses transfer or are "tested" for credit based on a placement exam. A student may sit through several semesters of theory only to find, on the day of their theory entrance exam, that they have to take this all over again from the beginning due to differences in terminology or notation preference. One might be best prepared if he expects this may happen. One might even plan for it. As a music major transferring from the JC, a student may need to plan on spending more than four years (total) in school in order to complete a degree program as a transfer student.
The bigger issue than theory and history equivalency exams is LESSONS. EVERY MUSIC MAJOR WILL HAVE A PROBLEM IN THIS AREA! SRJC does offer private lessons as a part of the music program. However, this does not mean that EVERY music student WILL receive 100% across the board lesson credit at a transfer institution. Students commonly wind up at the end of their college career needing at least one additional full year of lesson credits. Most of the time these lessons can not be "doubled up" and taken all at once because passing lessons usually involves taking a "jury" exam and offering a recital-neither of which can be done "two at a time".

My advice #1
Use the counseling department only when necessary (to sign approval for registration), but seek to minimize the possibility of being mislead by inaccurate information. If you know a good counselor, use him.

My advice #2
Seek counseling from the institution you want to attend in order to avoid taking classes that will ultimately not transfer. Be clear on where you are going and want to go as soon as possible. Bring transcripts or catalogues to counseling sessions. Search online for class and degree requirements, print them out and keep them with you at any appointments.

My advice #3
If you are a music major, continue your private instruction and sign up for the Music 44.x series (which requires a mid-term and final "jury" each semester) so lessons, although they may not transfer directly, will at least be documented by the college.

My advice #4
Get your A.A. degree. Make this your priority. If you don't wind up transferring, you will at least have a college degree. That is better in any case than no college degree at all. Chances are that an institution will consider accepting credits from a degree program rather than loose, unrelated classes alone.