Rachel Dodd loves working with children. In fact the 31-year-old has been employed in child care her entire adult life. But it wasn’t until she attended a Give Back Cincinnati charity event where she discovered her true calling as a Certified Child Life Specialist. Dodd hadn’t heard of the profession until that event when someone described the occupation – a health care professional who helps children and their families cope with a hospitalization, an illness or disability – and she immediately knew she found her life’s work.
“I’ve always been interested in helping with kids, but it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do,” said Rachel, of Fairfield. “This just felt right, helping kids and their families. When they’re in the hospital, that’s a very scary time in all of their lives and I just want to bring in that positive spirit and help them and encourage them.”
So, Rachel embarked on a four-year Family Studies degree at Miami University to achieve her goal. Graduation was within reach until she discovered a class she needed to become a Child Life Specialist – a therapeutic play class – wasn’t offered at Miami. Suddenly her entire path was thrown off course, as her intended graduation date was in jeopardy.
Luckily, one of Rachel’s professors told her she could take the necessary class at Northern Kentucky University through the GC3 Cross-Registration Program.
GC3, the nonprofit Greater Cincinnati Collegiate Connection, is an alliance of 18 regionally accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities, including Miami and NKU, in Greater Cincinnati. GC3’s mission is to advocate for higher education using the collective strength of its institutional members to positively influence the value of higher learning in the Greater Cincinnati region. It promotes professional development and opportunities for collaborative learning to advance the effectiveness of all members.
One such opportunity is the Cross-Registration Program. Cross-Registration, sponsored by GC3, enables a matriculated, degree-seeking, part-time student at a GC3 member institution to take courses at another GC3 member institution. The program, created in 1973, allows students to access educational opportunities not offered at their own institutions.
For Rachel, this was just what she needed to stay on track to achieve her dream of becoming a Child Life Specialist.
“Without the program, it would have been very tricky since they do not offer the class at Miami,” Rachel said. “I would have had to possibly take it online or enroll elsewhere. It just would have been a lot harder, but this made my life a lot easier.”
Rachel said once she was connected with a Student Services Technician at Miami’s Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success, the process was smooth sailing.
All GC3 institutions have a Cross-Registration Program liaison to get the students started. In Rachel’s case, her academic advisor verified the course she wanted to take would meet her program requirements. Each GC3 member institution has their process students must complete for approval to enroll in the program and to earn credit. The Cross-Registration liaison at the home institution handles those details, simplifying everything for the student.
Then, staff in the Registrar’s Office at the home institution verifies the enrollment status of the student during the proposed Cross-Registration term and gives approval for the student to move forward. Once approval is acquired, the host institution’s customer service professionals complete the Cross-Registration process by entering the student into the computer system, checking the class to make sure it’s open, and any prerequisites are met, before registration is complete.
After the course is completed, the grade is automatically sent back to the home institution where the student can acquire their transcript, if needed for graduate school or employment. All GC3 institutions (both home and host institutions) maintain academic records of cross-registered credit. The student can easily access everything they need at their home school, but should they need a transcript of a cross-registered course from the host school, it is available.
Tuition for courses taken through Cross-Registration is paid at the home institution. Students retain their full-time status at their home institution instead of being listed as a part-time student at each school. And, because all student information is kept at the home institution, enrollment verifications for insurance discounts, financial aid, et cetera, are easier to obtain.
The best part, according to Rachel, was she could still be a Miami student, but take the course at NKU. Now, Rachel will graduate in December, fully prepared for her new career.
“Miami and NKU are working together to allow students to get what they need so they can succeed and move forward,” Rachel said. Rachel noted that two other Miami students are also enrolled in the same class.
The Cross-Registration program is open to qualified students at all GC3 colleges and universities. From Fall 2016 to Summer 2017 over 340 students earned 1,248 credit hours through the Cross- Registration Program.