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Phoenix Forward magazine

6 ways a prerequisite course can help you succeed

Prerequisites

If you’re wondering why you need to take a course in general education before you get into the meat of your college curriculum at University of Phoenix, you’re not alone.

Many students think they may not need this five-week foundations course, says Wayne Denny, MA, who teaches in the general studies program at the University’s Idaho Campus. “But by the end of the class, they all admit they actually did learn quite a bit.” There’s one prerequisite course for those new to college and one for those with college experience.

Here are six skills you’ll be taught in a general education course: 

How to write a college paper

One of the biggest challenges new students struggle with is how to formulate a college paper, says Denny, who is chief of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness in Boise.

“In this course, we go over the basics of writing papers, from how to create a thesis statement to writing an outline, and then turning your outline into a paper,” he explains.

Best research practices

“It’s important to really understand how to avoid getting into trouble when relying on outside materials to do your homework by knowing what’s expected,” Denny emphasizes.

You’ll learn appropriate methods for conducting research, he adds, such as why peer-reviewed sources are more credible than online encyclopedias. 

Oral presentation basics

Knowing how to present an idea in front of a group in a formal manner is a key skill for success in college and life, Denny says.

“I always tell my students there are very few jobs in the workplace today where you don’t have to be prepared to present an idea of yours orally,” he notes. “And if you haven’t learned how to do this before diving into another course, you may find yourself really struggling.”

How to get comfortable being a student

Although it’s not part of any formal curricula, Denny says, students need to become familiar with the logistical aspects of being a student, such as the proper steps to turning in a paper, when to ask questions in class and how to interact with classmates.

“General education classes are a very safe environment to ask all the questions you want because once you get into your other classes, there’s a lot of content to focus on,” Denny points out.

Managing your time

Many students enter college without determining how they’ll juggle their personal life, work and school. “We spend quite a bit of time talking about how students can better plan their time by setting a study schedule and creating a good learning environment,” Denny explains.

Navigating online learning tools

“The University has a lot of tools to help students succeed in college, but if you aren’t introduced to them, you may not know they exist,” Denny says.

Denny teaches students how to access the Center for Mathematics Excellence and the Center for Writing Excellence, where they can use tools such as a plagiarism checker to help ensure their papers contain original content.