CLS 100, otherwise known as the first year experience class at Grand Rapids Community College, is praised on the GRCC website as a class that “prepares you to be successful in college and in life.” The course description goes on to warn students that although most other universities have first year experience classes, this class may or may not transfer to another college. It states that students starting at GRCC Winter 2014 and later, with less than a 3.0 high school GPA are required to enroll in CLS 100 their first semester. The class is promoted with this equation: “CLS 100 will help you to construct your personal roadmap to college success. College success leads to life success.”
As I went into my honors program orientation at GRCC this last summer, the counselors present told our group that they recommended, that we take CLS during our first semester. They said it was a valuable class that went over topics such as helping us further explore our career paths. Like many other honors students, I signed up for the class. It was on the list of classes that they thought I should be taking my fall semester, so why would I not follow their professional recommendation?
When I started the class at the beginning of the school year, I discovered that the class was not at all what I expected. I initially thought we would be given the run down on transfer schools. I thought I would be figuring out what exact classes I was going to have to take in order to transfer in two years. I also thought we would be taught how to write professional resumes and cover letters, and possibly do some mock interviews. Instead the class ultimately taught two things: how to study, and how to take notes.
The class focused on how to develop proper study habits, mind tests discovering what kind of a learner you are and ultimately pulling together a presentation and a paper on your career and job field that you are thinking of going into. The problem with this is that although the main objective of the course is to help you figure out what you actually want to do, most students in my class who came into the class undecided remained undecided when the 10-week course ended.
For the different projects and papers students do for the class, the rubrics are extremely unclear. The faculty members who teach the classes do not write the rubrics like faculty do for other courses taught at GRCC. The instructor did everything possible to make the class interesting, however it was not at the level that honors students needed.
At times the directions for projects are unclear, and no matter what students are informed of by their instructors, they will all be graded on the exact same scale that has been established by the school. Although these topics are good to be covering in a regular CLS class, or in a CLS class where there has been a large gap in time between when the student ended high school and started attending college, but they should not be covered in the honors version of the class. Paying approximately $70 to $80 on a book and $200 on a class to teach honors students what they already know is absolutely absurd.
Even though I was in the honors section of CLS, the class covered all topics that I had mastered in high school. In addition to the fact that I did not learn much while I was taking the class, the homework load was absolutely ridiculous. Quizzes, online work, papers and various projects throughout the semester made up the workload for the class.
The biggest things for both versions of the class that need to be altered is going around and seeing the campus more and actually identifying where different things on campus are. As strange as it might sound, many first year students at a community college do not know where the library is, and other important places that are valuable to one’s success in college. Although in the class we discuss the importance of going to the library to do research and to study, as well as going on the library’s website, it would have been much more effective to actually make a trip over to the library as a class.
Another element of the class that needs to be changed is the online assignments need to be taken into the classroom and turned into actual class discussions and projects that are done in class. The online assignments required are all easy to go through very fast and and allowed students to rush through them without putting much thought into the assignment. If the online assignments were turned into class discussions, the information would be learned and absorbed much better.
The ultimate problem with the class is that although it was an honors course, we were being underestimated as students. Honors students want help figuring out where to transfer after GRCC, help figuring out what classes from GRCC will be accepted at their transfer school, and a better explanation of how to navigate the work place and market themselves. If GRCC wanted to have an effective honors version of CLS, they need to focus in on what honors students need a better understanding of. These topics include more focus on the financial literacy unit in the class and how to get out of college debt free. Although this was covered, it was not covered enough.
As far as I am concerned, CLS 100 was not there to prepare me to be successful in college and in life. I feel like I have stressed and worked hard to learn nothing. I wasted my time, energy and money for 10 weeks. The one benefit that I saw with the class is that although I did not learn anything, I became friends with all the students in my class. In a sense, we all just paid to make friends, so ultimately if you just want to make friends, CLS 100 can help you out with that. Until GRCC changes what is being taught in CLS 100 for honors students, it is definitely not a class worth investing in.