I wanted to discuss my community college experience in order to have a bit of information out there on the internet for people to digest before the new school year begins. It is important to both pull away the shroud of mystery that surrounds higher education, and do my part to de-stigmatize attending community college. I’d like to mention that my CC experience is limited to the scope of Southern California and STEM.
A lot of people do not have access to information about how to navigate the muddy waters of higher education. From the plethora of different types of student loans to what a bachelor’s degree even is, college has a lot of technical jargon associated with it. Furthermore, college degrees, whether they’re associates, bachelors, masters, or PhDs, are becoming increasingly more important as the world evolves into a service economy.
So why attend a community college?
I am a huge advocate for community college (duh).
The biggest benefit to attending a junior college is how affordable they are. They’re financially reasonable, at around $46 per unit , compared to UCLA, for example, at $1300 per unit (if you both are a resident and take 16 units every quarter).
There’s also a stigma that students who attend community college are lazy chumps, especially in wealthier areas. Parents are more willing to send their children off to their “safety” schools and spend thousands of dollars rather than having their student attend community college and transfer to their dream school.
Without attending Moorpark College, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the wonderful friends I know, take ballet and realize my incredible passion for it, meet inspiring professors, and most importantly study physics. In fact, I wouldn’t have touched physics or mathematics with a ten foot pole if I had attended a four year university straight out of high school.
Okay, that sounds great, but there are a few issues students face by attending community college.
It’s easy to get “stuck” at home. Most students tend to live with their parents and the comforts are home become too familiar and enjoyable to leave. However, as long as you stay disciplined and surround yourself with people who are encouraging and want you to transfer, you will be fine.
advice for students, new and old
Although not all of the advice below is applicable for every college student, I feel there's something for everyone!
I will for sure be heeding my own words of wisdom during the fall semester.
- Attending a CC doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you have an opportunity to work hard and be successful!
- Take advantage of TAG if you attend a California CC and assist.org.
- TAG, the transfer agreement guarantee is a program specifically for California community colleges and certain UC schools (which vary by school). As long as you maintain a minimum GPA and fulfill specific class requirements, your admission to a UC of your choice is guaranteed, as long as your community college has a TAG contract with that UC school.
- Assist.org is “is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.” It will help you decide what classes to enroll in for your major, so you don’t waste time and money taking classes that you neither need nor will transfer to your future university.
- Meet with a counselor. ASAP. Even if you don’t know what you want to do yet. It’s better than wasting money on courses you may not even need and they can help point you in a direct that is helpful, if you intend on transferring.
- Take a variety of classes that pique your interest! General Education courses are there for you to explore! Even if you think you know what you want to do for the rest of your life, it doesn’t hurt to see what else is out there.
- Don’t overload your first quarter/trimester/semester, even if you’re used to taking advanced classes in high school. The volume of information covered in a day is significantly greater than it was in high school. My physics class, for example, covered one chapter of material during every two hour lecture. That’s a lot of information. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of a course just because it’s at a community college. You’re learning subjects that have been staples in higher education for years. Calculus doesn’t change whether you take it at your local community college or at Harvard.
- There are people who share your values and interests - you just haven’t found them yet. Make friends who encourage you and make you feel good (and be sure to reciprocate the good vibes!).
- Don’t feel pressured to leave in 2 years - I wish I had spaced out my work load and had stayed 3, to be honest.
- Community college isn’t “easy” especially if you’re in STEM. So study. If you fail your first exam, don’t wait until the final to ask you professor what you can do to pass. Ask your professor what you can do to get the A. They may be able to provide some insight as to why you’re struggling! But be proactive!
- Meet and hang out with your professors during office hours! They want you to succeed! Also take advantage of any on-site tutoring! It’s free and it never hurts to ask for help. Learning is a communal effort - it truly takes a village to learn.