The College Catalog or Course Catalog is an inclusive source of much of the important information that college students need for a successful college career. Each school’s catalog is different, but most contain the essential information for students. Some schools still publish a “hard copy” of the catalog and some schools publish their catalog in digital format only. Most schools have their catalog available on their websites.
Why should college parents be interested in the college catalog?
As parents of college students we know that we must step back and allow our college students to take responsibility for themselves. This is often not an easy thing to do. One of the things that may make it easier for us to step back is being informed. This allows us to feel reassured about what is important for our student, but also to help our student begin to take on that necessary responsibility. If we know more about what our student needs to do, and what is expected of her, then we may help to guide her in the right direction.
The college catalog contains a wealth of information about the school. You (and your student) will probably not sit and read the catalog from cover to cover, but familiarizing yourself with the basics early on, and then keeping it handy for later reference, will often make the college experience go much more smoothly.
The catalog contains information about several key areas:
- College mission statement or statement of philosophy
- General information about the college: history, location and directions, calendar
- Student life information: residence life information, health services information, information about clubs and activities, etc.
- Academic policies and procedures: class registration process, grading system, academic standing policies, grade reporting processes, notification or petition policies, judicial procedures
- Graduation requirements and major requirements
- Descriptions of courses
- Financial aid information
- Contact information for administrative offices and faculty members
- Directory of faculty members
Many questions that students and their parents have can be answered by spending some time with the college catalog. As a parent, you may direct your student to the appropriate information, or at least be better able to be knowledgeable when your student discusses an issue with you. If a problem does arise that requires you, as a parent, to call someone at the college, having the pertinent information from the catalog available may be helpful.
The college catalog or course catalog is much more than simply a list of courses offered by the college. It is a comprehensive reference and source of information about life at the institution. Refer to the catalog, and direct your student to consult it. It will help you to help your student feel empowered to direct his college career successfully.