It’s becoming even more popular than you think, and not just in being the premise for a favorite television series. More and more students are, for various reasons, choosing to take their first two years of undergrad at community colleges across the nation. The reasons can range from indecisiveness over what major to declare, to getting sticker shock from rising tuition prices. Whatever your reasoning, chances are, you’re not alone. And while the stigma that comes with 2-year schools seems to be dying off, you may find yourself feeling gypped out of a real college experience. However, there are a few simple ways to guarantee that you get the most out of your community college experience.
- Shrug off any preconceived notions.
We all enter college with this bright-eyed, sparkly, cookie-cutter idea of what it is going to be like. Whether it be from movies, television or simply the secondhand experience of a friend, we all have preconceived ideas of the quintessential college experience. However, the reality is that everyone has a different path to achieving higher education. Relish in the difference of yours. Approach this season of your college experience with a fresh set of eyes, and the process will be much happier. Community colleges are often linked to the public university system for their state, and usually follow the same strict guidelines for core classes that their four-year counterparts do. Knowledgeable and experienced professors are brought in and course options are expanding each year with the growing number of students choosing community college first.
2. Get to know your team.
Make use of your resources. Get to know your advisers and see if your college offers a department mentoring system. Librarians are also invaluable resources, and can make a world of difference in navigating online catalogs for research papers. Take advantage of smaller class sizes, and being able to form educationally enriching relationships with your professors.
3. Get out there!
Join clubs that align with your major, or maybe try something completely different that’s always interested you. Check the bulletin boards for free classes and lesser advertised student events. Community colleges are typically really good at offering financial seminars and tax prep assistance, so check to see if your college offers these tools, as well. Lastly, a lot of common complaints with 2-year college experience stem from a lack of connection. You aren’t on campus 24/7, and sometimes this can be a really positive thing. However, try to stick around campus as much as your schedule allows. It can be as simple as studying in the coffee shop on campus among fellow students, versus going off campus.
4. Hop on the transfer train, early.
Two years will pass a lot quicker than you’d think. If a four-year degree is your goal, start preparing for the process of transferring. Speak to a transfer adviser and attend on campus transfer fairs that usually host nearby universities.
The key to enjoying any college experience is having an open mind and a positive outlook. Approaching your community college experience with this mindset will provide you with the ability to make the most of every class and every interaction. Everyone has a different experience in college, appreciate the pros and make peace with the cons. Because at the end of the day, it is about doing the best that you can in the place you’ve be set.