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In Praise of the Community College
(Continued from 1)

Getting the Most Out of Community College

Like many things in life, college is what you make of it. You are at an advantage because you have chosen to enroll in college. Attending college of
your own volition rather than by obligation can make a huge difference in your level of satisfaction. College will be challenging at times but you have
the power to create an enjoyable, rewarding and successful experience. Here are a few tips that will help you on your journey:

Take Your Time. After delaying your dream for so many years, you might be anxious to get to the finish line. You may decide to take a full course load
while working full-time and raising a family. While this is admirable, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Instead of trying to be superwoman/man, start out by taking one or two classes a semester. This will help you gauge how much of a course load you can handle in conjunction with work and family responsibilities.

Save Stubborn Subjects for Summer. Aside from our right-brain or left-brain tendencies, most of us have certain subjects that are either easy to grasp or
take every ounce of our mental acumen to master. For many, math and statistics present a major hurdle to academic success while others struggle with writing or history. A good way to tackle a challenging class is to take it during the summer semester. Summer classes condense a four month semester into a few weeks by holding class meetings every weekday. By their nature, these classes force you to remain constantly focused on the subject. Yes, they can be painful at times, but the pain will be short lived.

Join the Club. Adding another activity to your already packed schedule may be the last thing you want to do, but student clubs can be very beneficial to your college experience. Not going to college straight out of high school probably means that you missed out on the full campus experience.. Campus clubs are a wonderful substitute and you don’t have to endure those nasty hazing rituals to participate. Pick a club that matches your interests—you don’t have to be a major in the subject, just interested. You also may be eligible for an honor society such as Phi Theta Kappa. Be a joiner even if it is for just an hour a week. You will meet amazing people, some of them just like you!

Get Help. When you are caught up in studying for tests and writing term papers, it is easy to forget that the people around you want you to succeed. It may be hard to believe but most professors do not relish giving their students D’s and F’s. Students who earn good grades in their classes are a testament to a professor’s teaching ability. If you’re having a hard time in class, schedule a visit with your professor for some guidance in improving your grades or form a study group with classmates. People are there to help, you just have to ask.

Take Time Out. Juggling the responsibilities of college can be difficult. You may find yourself so focused on working toward your goal of graduation that you forget to take time to relax and recuperate. Remember to give your brain a rest once in a while. Putter in the garden, go for a walk, listen to music, or attend a campus production starring your fellow students. The algebra homework will be waiting when you get back and will be much easier totackle after some down time.

Only the Beginning

For many, community college is the first step in successful educational career. If you have the drive and are committed to working hard, the odds are that you will do well. Most community college students go on to universities to earn their bachelor’s degree. Some even continue on to graduate school. Dr. Jose E. Alvarez, an associate professor of history at the University of Houston-Downtown in Houston, Texas, is one such success story.


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