Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Journey Starts with a Single Step - the Community College

Deb Peterson recently blogged about President Obama encouraging folks to look into their local community college as a way to get back into school. Deb encouraged her readers that, if they are thinking about returning to school, it is worthwhile to check out the community college.

The community college is a great place to start one's journey back into school. It is cheaper than the university, there are smaller classes, and there are programs geared for the working adult student. If you are considering starting your journey at a community college, here are some things you may want to consider:

1. Make an appointment with an advisor to discuss your educational goals. Do you want to get a program certificate, an Associates Degree or do you want to continue on to a four-year institution? The advisor will help you to determine your best course of action depending on your goals. For example, will the classes you take at the community college transfer to the university?
2. Make an appointment with the Office of Financial Aid. They will help you determine if you qualify for a Pell Grant, student loans and scholarships. Don't let the cost of your education deter you from pursuing your educational goals.
3. Check out the campus. Walk around and see if you think you'd like being on that campus. Talk to some of the students. How far would you have to commute to go to school? How late is the library open? What is the food like in the UC? If you're going to be attending classes on that campus, you need to be comfortable there.
4. Find out what kinds of programs are available for nontraditional students. Is there an Adult Student Association or a similar group? How accessible is the faculty to the nontraditional students? Most faculty are around during the day while a good majority of the community college's nontraditional student population is around at night. How would you get a hold of or meet with your teachers?
5. Attend some campus activities like plays, etc. One of the community colleges here has a Hot Air Balloon Festival in September. Find out how the community college is melding into and contributing to the culture of the surrounding community.
6. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Persevere until you get a satisfactory answer.

It has been my experience that there are many wonderful teachers at the community colleges. I had Professora Burdette for Spanish, Ms. Dagley for Western Civ I and a great Statistics teacher. The classes are smaller, so you not only get to know your teacher but you also get to know your classmates. That's helpful when it comes time to form a study group!

Thinking of going back to school? Check out your local community college! Stay tuned . . .

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