When Miguel Gonzalez took a job overseeing student retention at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, he went looking for a self-help book he could show students. “There were some things on what universities can do to help students graduate, but there was not manual, no how-to for the average student,” Gonzalez says. So Gonzalez decided to write the book, Finish In 4: 10 Steps to Graduating College in 4 Years. “There’s a lot of energy and resources to help students get to college and make the transition from high school to college,” he says. But not much is available to help guide students through college. Only about half of students who enter college as freshmen graduate in four years. Gonzalez himself had 143 credits upon graduation, when he only needed 120. Those extra 23 hours were time and money wasted, he says. Gonzalez started writing the book while he was still in Pennsylvania, but then his wife’s job took them to Arizona and then Dallas. He finished the book last year and published it in March under the company he already owned, Muckraker Media, which had published promotional materials and websites. Gonzalez is planning four other titles in the “Finish in 4” series. Next are books for veterans and students who are parents. He also plans books specifically geared toward first-generation college students and minorities. So what are these 10 steps for graduating in four years? Gonzalez clued us in on a few of them. First, have a plan for graduating in four years. In high school, everything is prescribed. Students go to class, and if they show up and do the work, then after four years, they graduate. Many incoming students don’t realize they need to plan how many classes to take each semester to graduate on time. Next, students should take advantage of counseling and find a mentor in college. “Most people don’t seek a guide,” Gonzalez says. “You don’t want to go on safari alone. You hire a guide to take you because you’ve never been there before.”—Rachel Stone
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.