Community College is NOT the Backup Plan…That You Can’t NOT Do Any Planning For
There are many excellent reasons to start your college attendance at a community college. It’s economical for one thing. It might be a very wise financial decision to pay a fraction per unit for General Education requirements as compared to taking the same courses at a four year college. It is also an opportunity to improve on a less than stellar high school academic record. Grow up a little more. Have direction and perspective on your major and university choice.
However, attending community college requires focus, a plan, and the desire and motivation to reach an end result…which might be obtaining an AA degree; a trade certificate; or transferring to a four year university.
You may have heard about the 2012 California Student Success Act addressed the dismal numbers of students that did not end up transferring or graduating from community college. Now students are required to make progress towards their education goal; and for the college to track that progress. Student financial aid and fee waivers during community college is dependent on satisfactory academic requirements. Students will no longer be able to opt in and out of community college. Progress needs to be made toward the education goal. There are too many students in California to serve to allow for indecision or lack of focus and tenacity.
Students should beginning researching and planning at least a year in advance, even if a high school senior is also applying to four year universities but community college is also on the college list. Peruse the community college website for early registration offers, workshops, orientations, deadlines. Look into the special programs for transfer students including the Honors Program, transfer gaurantee progams (in California – TAG and TAP) and interstate exchange programs like WUE (all explained on the various community college websites…or just google them!)
High School preparation remains important. It is advisable to take math all four years of high school. It will help keep that skill fresh, contribute to the math level placement and ultimate testing success to meet the math requirement to transfer to a four year university. Understand that where the student places during the entrance math and English exams will dictate time and success toward the transfer and/or graduation process from community college. The community college GPA is an important factor during the transfer process – and to be appropriately prepared for the rigor of the four year university.
Did you know that not all colleges offer the same majors and programs? If a student has a specific major in mind, and is working toward a four year college that offers that major, do the research to see if there is a community college with a major program that feeds into the four year university. Some majors are harder to transfer with than others – in part because of how competitive the majors are at the CSU and UC; fine art majors that involve auditions and portfolios are also more complicated. Mom and Dad – if this seems a LOT different than the community college experience of 10, 20 or 30 years ago – it IS!
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