Are you starting your career at a community college? look no further! this guide will help you understand how to make the most out of your time in community college!
We need to stop looking at community colleges as education for those that can’t afford a university. These colleges have amazing resources, and while they might take a bit more work if you are planning on transferring, they can offer better education, amazing resources and opportunities, while staying close to home before going to a University.
Do you need an associates degree?
Hopefully by the time you go into college you know what you want to major in. Is it a 2 year technical career? is it a Bachelor’s? a Master’s? a PhD? This will be crucial for you to identify what classes to take an how to not waste any time, even as you figure out your major. I, for example knew I wanted a bachelor’s in STEM. What I didn’t know was that since my goal was set, I did not need an associates, and I ended up taking more gen ed classes (that didn’t transfer) just to get an extra degree that I don’t need because my bachelors overwrites the associates.
How many core classes towards your major do they offer?
Community colleges wont have every class you might need, so identify only the classes that you need. Sometimes you might only be in community college for 1 year, sometimes you do the 2 full years, sometimes they have so many classes that actually apply to your major that you might stay longer. You timeline is not set to “what everyone else does” (especially if you are in STEM). So figure it our and understand that its okay to transfer when you need to and not because someone else tells you!
Do all of your classes transfer?
Hopefully, your CC works closely with the school you intend to transfer to, If this is the case, it will be much easier to identify if all the classes you take will transfer simultaneously. If not, then you need to go out of your way, collect syllabus, talk to professors, counselors at both schools and ask to make sure all your classes in fact will transfers. Never take a no for an answer, especially if you already took the class. The last thing you want to do in retake it, and pay again, when the education that you got was fair and sufficient compared to a 4 year university.
Do they understand your needs?
I am bringing up this for 2 important reasons:
1. Community colleges might try to convince you to get a smaller degree with them (ex. an associates) because it helps them (not you!)
2. If a counselor ever tells you that you should change majors, they shouldn’t be counselors. Just because you are a woman, a minority, are struggling (trust me its temporary), or simply there’s no chemistry, it is no reason for them to decide YOUR future. Unless of course you literally asked them for their advice.
Do they have clubs related to your major?
This is not a deal breaker, but college is about meeting people with similar interests. So, if you are starting college or are currently in college, find a club you like. And if there is none, create one!
I literally did that, and that’s how I found some of my closest friends to date! You just need 3 more people and a mission. (hint: try to make it educational, but it can literally be for ANYTHING!)
What scholarships do they offer?
Never, ever! go into college without looking for scholarships. And apply! Even if the due dates have passed, ask the coordinator of that scholarship. This is exactly how I became an NSF scholar and an amazing mentorship program. The due date had passed, I didn’t qualify for money, but they were thrilled to have me be part of their group. We meet monthly, had presentations on many STEM courses, participated in a research competition, found an amazing woman in STEM mentor and overall learned all the opportunities I had in STEM before picking Mechanical Engineering.
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