Tara

Tara Shaw

Tara is a new high school graduate who needs remediation in English and math and also needs financial aid.

  • Primary Goal: Transfer to a four-year college.
  • Main Challenges: Missed the Freshman Priority Workshop; placed into courses below her ability, with no way to re-place for another 18 months.
  • Occupation: Student
  • Age: 18

I’m excited to be a college student, but there are so many steps to figure out.


Tara was introduced to her local community college in high school. The college provided free assessment testing for college seniors. Tara’s family did not have the means to send her directly to a university, so she participated in this assessment. Although Tara had taken pre-calculus and English Literature at her high school, she was placed in prealgebra and remedial English levels at the college. She didn’t feel that the results were indicative of her best work, but she was told that she would not be able to take the tests again for 18 months.

Tara was on a camping trip with her family when the Freshman Priority Workshop took place at the college, so she had to figure out the application process on her own. She completed the application and waited for her admission letter. It took a week and half and after calling the college a few times, she found the email from the college in her spam folder. In the letter, she discovered that to get priority registration she would need to meet with a counselor and complete the online orientation. The link to the online orientation and the phone number for the counseling were included in the email. She called the counseling office and was told that because of limited summer counseling hours, the earliest appointment would be in three weeks. After securing an appointment, she started the online orientation workshop. The orientation information was a lot of dos and don’ts but not a lot of inspiring and encouraging content.

After three weeks, Tara met with her counselor. She was told that in this first meeting, she would be receiving an “abbreviated Student Education Plan” which provided her with a list of courses she could take the first semester. Tara remembered listening to the info on SEPs during the online orientation video, but at the time, it didn’t make sense to her. She also discovered that she had already missed priority registration, which had started three weeks ago.

When Tara started the registration process, there were still some sections open for her, but a number of the sections were already full. Tara’s friend told her that the sections with the most popular teachers and the lowest costs of textbooks filled first. Tara registered into whatever sections were available, and matched her abbreviated SEP, but didn’t feel hopeful.

Tara is now anxiously waiting for the semester to start. She worries about the “unpopular” sections that she had to take and about the cost of the textbooks. She would like to start the financial aid process, but doesn’t feel too enthusiastic considering the process she has already been through.