6 Tips for Incoming Community College Students
Roshawn Walter had little guidance when he enrolled at El Camino College in California. As a first-generation college student, there was much he didn’t know about attending a community college.
Today, he works in the Counseling Center at Mission College in California, sharing what he learned on this path to completing his associate degree, transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and earning his master’s degree in educational counseling. He offers six tips for incoming community college students.
1. You don’t have to declare a major in order to enroll. In fact, it is often better to be “undecided” and focus on your general education courses until you declare a major. This prevents you from taking major courses that may no longer count toward your associate degree if you switch majors.
2. There’s nothing wrong with spending more than two years at the “two-year” community college. Not everyone works at the same pace, and that’s okay. It’s better to spend more time at the community college and attain better grades as opposed to finishing quickly with minimum grade averages.
3. Despite what your major is, you are still often required to complete general education courses prior to transferring to a university. This is a good thing — you’ll pay significantly less for the same classes offered at the university level.
4. Don’t panic if you fail a course. You can retake the class and the lower grade will no longer be calculated into your grade point average (GPA), although it will remain on your transcript. Plus, many universities require a minimum 2.0 (C) GPA for admissions, so you’ll still be able to transfer even if you don’t receive all A’s and B’s.
5. When you transfer to a community college, your GPA starts over. As it usually happens when you transfer to a four-year university, your GPA will reset when you transfer to a community college. If you haven’t done so well in high school, this is your opportunity to attain a competitive GPA before you transfer to a university.
6. There are a variety of support programs and services at community colleges that can further support your educational journey. Examples include First-Year Experience, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), Transfer Centers, TRIO, and more.