4 Reasons I Continued with CCA After Being a Concurrent Enrollment Student
My name is Nereida Arroyo-Ramirez and I’m a recent graduate of the Community College of Aurora. At CCA, I earned an associate of science (AS) degree in biology.
I started at CCA as a concurrent enrollment student during my senior year at Gateway High School and quickly moved into the Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment (ASCENT) program. I began taking CCA classes regularly after I left the ASCENT program.
CCA’s concurrent enrollment classes really prepared me for life as a full-time college student. They helped me succeed and discover what I wanted to do with my life.
I'm a first-generation college student and my mom always told me she wanted me to go to college but I didn't know how to get there, so I took ASCENT classes to discover what I liked and what kind of career I wanted to pursue. I took a biology class my first semester as an ASCENT student and loved it. That's when I decided I wanted to study science. I plan to transfer to Colorado State University and earn my bachelor’s degree in biology and apply to CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Here are the four main reasons why I decided to continue at CCA after graduating from high school:
No. 1: Attending CCA allowed me to save a lot of money.
And when I say “a lot,” I mean I haven't spent anything on school, thanks to programs like ASCENT and TRIO. These programs and the people who run them put you in a position to get scholarships. They encourage you to apply or they help you apply themselves. Without their help, I wouldn't have received the scholarships I did. I received a PELL Grant, a CCA Foundation Scholarship, and the Hide in Plain Sight scholarship. Combined, these covered the cost of my entire education at CCA.
No. 2: The advisors and resources at CCA are awesome.
As a concurrent enrollment student, I met with my advisor constantly and was never alone for anything. The same was true at CCA. After graduating from Gateway, I met with CCA’s TRIO advisors on a regular basis and received the support I needed as a college student.
CCA’s advisors are great resources. Had I been on my own, I wouldn't have been as successful at CCA. For example, they taught me how to search for classes online, how to add classes to my schedule, and how to balance everything as a full-time college student. They taught me how to organize my time so I could study efficiently and do well in my classes. If I would’ve tried to do that on my own, I would’ve struggled with some of those tasks. My advisors would sometimes reach out to me and say, "Hey, Nereida. We haven't talked in a while. Come meet with me." That showed me they really cared about me and my success at CCA.
No. 3: The CCA community is fantastic.
The funny thing is, I happen to enjoy the college atmosphere more than the high school atmosphere. As a concurrent enrollment student, I took night classes at CCA and the students were so mature; they did the work and there were never any excuses. Everyone was serious and wanted to learn. It was a great atmosphere for learning and growing.
I’m really grateful I went to CCA after high school instead of throwing myself into a four-year college because I don't know well I would’ve done. At CCA, I got to learn and make mistakes — and there’s room to make mistakes.
No. 4: The class sizes are much smaller.
I toured several four-year university campuses and the classrooms there can be ginormous! The class sizes at CCA are way smaller, which allowed me to connect with my instructors and get to know them on a first-name basis. I got to know a lot of my classmates and developed connections that will hopefully last a lifetime.
CCA gave me many amazing opportunities. I was recognized as a Rising Star at CCA and was the president of the LatinX Student Alliance. I also assisted with the STEM+ organization and with numerous events and activities throughout the college. These experiences helped me grow not only as a student, but also as a person.
If you do decide to attend CCA after high school, I encourage you to take full advantage of the many opportunities available to you. Try something different, get out of your comfort zone, make your mark — you’re encouraged to do that at CCA. And believe me, you won’t regret it.