Raise your hand if you grew up with college paraphernalia on your bedroom walls of the college you knew you would attend?
If you did and went to that very college, I will say good for you! But many of us don’t start thinking about specific colleges until we get to high school.
Choosing a college is a crucial part of our academic life. The type of school we attend, the major we choose, and the degree we receive can help us to determine future job prospects and career paths. It also enhances our views and encourages self-discovery and personal growth.
Whether we start at a 2-year community college, or go directly to a university, our main purpose is to get an education, get a job, make money, and have a life.
I always wanted to have a traditional college experience. Start as a freshman, live in the dorms, join a club or sorority or something, and make lots of friends. It was the dream!
However, after high school, I was unsure about my major, and due to other financial and family reasons, I decided to start at the local community college. I then went on to a university where I graduated with my degree. I had a great college experience, and I am happy to say that it all began at the community college.
Here are some things I recommend doing to make the most of your community college experience. Trust me, they are so worth it!
10 Ways to Get the Best Community College Experience
Getting good grades is important however, it is equally essential to have a healthy social life. Join a club or the student body council, even though it may seem tacky at first. If you a Math major, join the Math club. If you enjoy drama or acting, join the theater club. This way you are not only making new friends, but also doing some extracurricular activities which only help you to pad that resume and college application.
Experiment with classes
Please take classes other than your major! If you are still undecided, then yay, because now’s your chance to shop around for classes. Take as many diverse classes as you can because once you transfer to a 4-year college, for the most part you will be stuck doing only upper divisions for your chosen major. Take Philosophy, Creative writing, Anthropology (Physical Anthro is fun!!!), Public Speaking, etc. etc. I could go on but that is me listing my choices. Take whatever you want because college is all about exploring and feeding your curiosity. Don’t worry about bad grades (if you get any), because it isn’t the end of the world (I got a C in my Public Speaking class but I learned from it and went on to start a Psychology chapter as well as become the president of one 😊)! Take classes that are fun, as well as studious.
If you can, do some light volunteer work. You can start by checking the bulletin boards for openings around the college. This way, you will get to know many college staff and professors which will come in handy when you are looking for letters of recommendations. When you move on to a university, depending on your academic goals, you may want to do internships or research based on your major. You can start that at the community college level as well because that gets you ahead of the game and it gives you something to write about in your admission essays.
Get to know your teachers
This is very important. Community college class sizes are often smaller – not always though – but for the most part, there is a good chance to get to know and be known by the professors. I know you may be thinking that being known by the professor only means being picked on by them for answers in class. Well, that can be true but building a rapport with your professors helps you learn the material easier because you aren’t afraid to ask questions or approach them. If they know you, you can obtain references, or job/volunteer opportunities from them as well.
Visit the transfer center often
If you are planning on transferring to a 4-year college, it will do you good to visit the transfer center at your community college. They have loads of information on various colleges and often invite admissions representatives from there for meet and greet. Transfer centers also help you learn more about the academic requirements of your future university, and often schedule visits at the college’s expense.
Get an education plan made
This is important! I recommend seeing a counselor and getting an education plan made during your first semester. The counselor draws up a list of classes you should take to be on track. Once you have a major picked out, the list of classes on your education plan can be updated to reflect the transferring university’s requirements. The ed plan helps you to pick a variety of courses as well.
Utilize all resources
Community colleges have a wealth of resources for their students. Writing centers, scholarships and dean’s list programs, tutoring services, work experience opportunities, study abroad, honors programs and honor societies, computer and other subject matter expert labs, and libraries. All this and many more are almost always covered by your tuition; therefore, it would be sensible to utilize them for your benefit.
So, there you have it! Some of my tips on making the most of your education at the community college. I hope you find them useful, because I certainly did.
If you were a student at a 2-year college, please share your experiences and tips. Was it a good experience? Did it make your transition into the university easier?