Moving On: The Two-Four Step

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Now, in a park, a young man who does not have arms slides books into a backpack using his feet. He slings the backpack onto his shoulder. After checking a watch on his ankle, He slips on his sneakers and walks away. A title appears, "Moving On: The Two-Four Step"
[Narrator] Last year, for the first time, Greg Buell lived on his own. He started classes at Seattle Pacific University, moving here from his parents' home in Eastern Washington. A big step, but not as far as he might have gone.
[Greg] The main reason I liked here is 'cause it was closer to home. I was looking at a school that my brother went to in Southern California, but that was just too far away; I wanted to come home on three-day weekends if I wanted to...
[Narrator] Greg wasn't new to college life. He'd already earned an associate degree from Columbia Basin College, knowing that he'd transfer eventually to a four-year university. The two years he spent at community college made it financially possible to continue at a private school of his choice.
[Greg] The big thing for me is the financial aspect of it, is I can't afford four years of $20,000 a year; I don't have that kind of money; so to do two years at a local institution where you have free rent, free housing, free food-if you're living with your parents-to do that was a major thing.
[Narrator] For many students, community college is a great way to start. Besides lower tuition, the smaller class size is a big advantage.
[Al Souma, Seattle Central CC] I know that we tend to give our students a lot of individual attention; our faculty know our students for the most part, I think, on a personal basis, and they're willing to listen to situational stories that come up in people's lives; and accommodation arrangements are done fairly quickly and without too much fanfare.
[Narrator] For some careers, a two-year degree is all that's needed, making community college an end in itself. But if you're looking toward a bachelor's degree or beyond, you need to start making plans now.
[Al] I think the moment they step in the door on campus, they should be thinking about, "Why am I here? What are my short term goals, what are my long term goals?" And in that process of thinking about it, they could then begin to look for classes that will point in that direction.
[Narrator] Determine the prerequisites you'll need for your major, then make sure you're taking the right mix of classes for the most effective transfer. For example, you'll need a heavier math and science load for an engineering degree than for journalism.
Now, students walk through a campus full of blossoming trees.
Start by mapping your path. What careers are you considering? Do you need a technical or two-year degree? Or do you need at least four years? Will graduate school be necessary? Will your career be both challenging and rewarding?
[Al] Well, you want to look at yourself. What are your values? What are the things that make up you as a person, your likes, your dislikes; and then you begin to look at occupations. And then you try to make a match.
[Narrator] Check out the career services or career counseling office on your campus. Besides career ideas, they may offer aptitude or interest tests to see how you compare to people who are successful in various professions. The sooner you're able to focus on what you really want, the better you'll be able to plan.
[Rich Okamoto, Seattle Pacific U.] It's just as important to spend as much time researching what you're going to do as far as your employment than it is to research the college you're going to go to. So it certainly helps to spend some time getting really a good idea of what kinds of employment, what kind of skills and gifts that you have, so that you can look for a job that you'll really want to do.
[Narrator] Next, choose the best college or university for you. Do the school's academic strengths match your goals? Does class size matter? Location? Expense? Or maybe the overall "feel" of the school is most important to you. That was a big factor for Greg in choosing Seattle Pacific University.
[Greg] Actually, my brother's best friend went here, two years before I came; and so I talked to him a lot and came over here a couple times and visited and did the tour thing with the staff here and just really liked the atmosphere-it was a real friendly atmosphere here and I loved the campus setting...
[Narrator] If you have a disability, it's critical to visit the college. Can you get around on campus? Check out the library, dining areas, and other student facilities. Can you use them? If you'll be living in a dorm, will the university take care of any accommodations you may need?
[Kathy Cook, Univ. of Washington] Some accommodations are clearly mandated by law, but other accommodations vary depending on the institution. So it's really important for a student to go to the schools that they're thinking about attending and talk with the Disabled Student Services Office to see what types of accommodations they would be able to receive at that institution. Hi, Greg, how are you? Doing good.
[Narrator] One of your first contacts on campus should be the disabled student services office, or the staff person assigned to provide accommodations. They'll make sure you have the right documentation, help arrange accommodations, and act as a support system.
[Rich, DSS coordinator] Since the disabled student services coordinators are there to really serve you and try to make your educational experience as good as the institution wants it to be, they can be one of your best allies on any campus.
[Narrator] They can also be advocates for students who are having difficulties. But don't wait until you're in real trouble before making the first contact.
[Al, DSS coordinator] One of the things that I want to stress, that's critical, is for students with disabilities to come and use our services early in the process. Then, from the beginning, I'm in a better position to advocate strongly. Particularly if they come in on a regular basis so I know what's going on.
Now, in one of Greg's classes.
[Professor] Hi, I'm Dr. Price and this is Marriage and Family. So if you're not in the right Class, leave now
[Narrator] You also have to be an advocate for yourself, especially when it comes to requesting accommodations. You're the expert on your own disability.
[Greg] For classrooms, the only thing I need is I have a smaller desk that's maybe a foot and a half off the ground, kind of slants at an angle; so I just sit in a normal chair and have that desk just on the floor, so that's where I do my writing. That's the only adaptation I need in the classroom.
[Narrator] If your disability isn't obvious, professors may not realize that you have one-or know how to accommodate you, unless you tell them. A pre-class introduction helps to develop a rapport and to smooth obstacles in advance.
[Kathy, DSS coordinator] Our disabled student services office writes a letter for each student that receives services through our program. It's directed to the professor; it talks about the fact that they've met with me, and I've reviewed their documentation; and then it lists out all the appropriate accommodations for that student. And basically, the student takes the letter to the professor, and sits down and discusses the accommodations one on one.
[Narrator] Besides academics and accommodations, consider these other areas of concern when choosing a university:
Computer access, library support services, tutoring, Financial aid, climate, transportation. Housing, Dining, child care, social organizations.
[Narrator] The Internet, the admissions office, and other students are all sources of information. Then, once you've chosen a four-year school, you actually have to go there. The transition can be a little scary.
[Greg] I was concerned about it, just because with a disability, and moving into a new place, there's not always the same people around to help you that you need help from, sometimes. I think it was a transition for me, but after going through it, I don't think there was any big reason for that kind of fear that I may have had.
[Narrator] Ask ahead of time if there are transition programs available Sometimes, freshman orientation doesn't include transfer students. The expectations are different.
[Rich] I think professors in four- year institutions kind of expect, essentially, that you've had two years of college level experience under your belt; that you already know what's kind of expected in the classroom, that they can assume that you know what a syllabus is, and how to follow it; how to get around the campus; and that you're going to be pretty self-aware enough to go find the bookstore and do all the stuff without as much orientation as, say, a freshman coming in who may or may not have had college level work at all.
[Narrator] In other words, you're expected to plunge right in. You're also only two years from graduation, so you really have to start planning for employment. Look into internships as soon as possible. The career services office on campus can help you.
[Anne Scholl, UW career counselor] We feel as though internships are the best place for a student to explore career opportunities. And the more that they can articulate their skills and their worth, the better prepared they're going to be to choose different types of careers that might be their best fit.
[Narrator] For students with disabilities, there are some added benefits.
[Julie Smallman, DO-IT careers counselor] A student with a disability has to also think about issues like how do I disclose my disability to a potential employer; what accommodations do I need on the job; where do I get those accommodations; how much do they cost; those types of things that the typical student might not have to think about, but the student with a disability not only has to think about, but feel very comfortable in portraying that to an employer. And internships can give a student an opportunity to practice that not once, but several times, with several different people.
[Narrator] You can also learn what you don't like about a particular career, as Greg did in his summer public relations job.
[Greg] It was a great experience of PR, just learning how to do things was a great experience, how to do the focus sheets and news releases and video kind of things, but also realizing that there's some things that you have to look at in PR that aren't so glamorous.
[Narrator] Greg knows where he's going. The step from a two-year to a four-year college was right for him. He made a plan for success, and you can, too. Map your path, choose your schools, plan your transition, and make the best choices for you.
[Rich] Which schools are going to help me to cultivate those skills and those gifts that I have, so I can best use them in the workforce someplace.
At a graduation ceremony, smiling students wave their diplomas.