Lorain County Community College in Ohio offers a CAAHEP accredited sonography program leading to an Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Like most sonography schools in 2017, the program staff prepared a letter for prospective students to summarize the personal characteristics of a successful ultrasound technician. They are the same qualifies of successful college students. Transitioning to college life is easy for some and more difficult for others. Setting realistic expectations is the first step.
Characteristics of Success
Sonography schools want their students to succeed, and they do everything possible to help them. However, each student must take personal responsibility for their college success. What Lorain County Community College describes as the personal characteristics of successful sonographers are the same ones needed to succeed in college in general. Students must be:
- Emotionally mature
- Able to master the academics
- Very motivated
- Able to devote the necessary amount of time to the program
Many students are fresh out of high school when they start college, but a large number are over the age of 25. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 20.5 million students attended colleges and universities in the fall of 2016. Based on the latest statistics accumulated, 41 percent of the students were 18-24 years old, considered the traditional college age population. That means 59 percent of the students are 25 years old or older.
Mastering Sonography Schools at Any Age
All new college students go through an adjustment period because going to college is like going off to a separate, distinct city. It has its own culture, rules and population. Older students usually have real world experience that helps them develop reasonable expectations about the experience. For example, many were previously employed or have been making their own personal decisions for years.
For many traditional college students, the story is different. For those who are under the age of 25, going off to college is often seen more like an adventure because they have no idea what to expect. A young freshman is excited about starting classes, expecting them to be similar to high school classes and the instructors to be as accommodating as high school teachers. They may be quite surprised to learn that college instructors put much more responsibility on the students when it comes to learning the material.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography schools are intense programs. Students are expected to adapt to college life while attending classes and eventually completing eight-hour clinical training shifts. The excitement of attending college can quickly fade and feelings of stress can take its place. Sonography schools offer counseling services and students have faculty advisors, but they must learn to adapt, meeting the challenges in productive ways. That is what Lorain County Community College is referring to when it says successful sonographers, thus sonography students, must be emotionally mature.
What to Expect
The first few months of college are usually the most difficult. Each year it is estimated that over 380,000 students will drop out of college. New sonography students are learning new, and sometimes difficult, material in their classes while also learning the ins and outs of the campus.
To avoid being one of the students who does not succeed, keep the following points in mind:
- Realize the sonography programs require carrying a heavy workload, and especially compared to high school schedules. In high school, academic work is assigned in small units. In college, the assignments are much larger, the requirements much tougher, and students must work harder. If time management is challenging, it is wise to develop this skill before beginning sonography training.
- Ultrasound students must take full responsibility for their schedule, work assignments, homework, budget, sleep schedule and so on. Mom and dad are not there to tell the student how to manage the responsibilities. It is important to develop a system for balancing all the requirements of school and personal life to ensure important duties are taken care of in a timely manner.
- Students will make new friends, even while missing home, but some students will experience loneliness until then. Sometimes it takes real effort to make new friends, but most colleges have many student clubs, organizations, and places where students gather to visit with each other. Take some time to find a club or activity that fits a busy schedule. Make friends with fellow classmates, and be open to new relationships.
Sonography schools may be challenging, but it is important to keep end goals in site at all times and to follow the tips students and professionals offer new students. One of the top reasons students fail during the first year of college is due to choosing a wrong major. Most sonography students never deal with that problem. The lengthy and in-depth application process for admittance into the sonography program means students have carefully considered their career choice. College should be a memorable and enjoyable experience, and it begins by setting realistic expectations.
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