6 concerns about starting college
Whether you're going to college for the first time or it's been a long time since you've been in a classroom, everyone has something that they are nervous about. Being an admissions counselor at a community college, I've had many prospective students ask me the "What if:" questions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions or concerns.
What if I don't get accepted?
There is a right college for everyone. If you are applying to a 4-year institution, be sure to apply to several to give yourself options. When applying to a 2-year institution keep in mind that they are generally open-enrollment institutions. Basically what this means is that everyone that is interested in taking classes and continuing their education has the opportunity to do so. At CCA, for instance, everyone is accepted, and our advisors will work with you to determine what classes are going to be a good fit. This is done by looking at any combination of the following; ACT scores, SAT scores, transcripts or ACCUPLACER results.
I'm concerned about paying for college
The resources for financing your education are endless. Filling out a FAFSA is going to be every student's first step in helping to pay for college. I always tell everyone to fill it out; even if you think that the Federal government won't give you any money, it never hurts to fill out the form. You might be pleasantly surprised. I would also connect with your college's scholarship office. The people in the scholarship office are very good at finding money out there for you and can help to educate you about making smart decisions when looking for scholarships. Remember that every little bit helps. For most people there is not one quick fix; so find many sources of money. There are companies, foundations and organizations that want to give you money; all you have to do is find them. Web searches are your friend. You could even try looking on the back of a Campbell's Soup can. Many products that you buy at the grocery store are from companies that have scholarship opportunities.
I don't know anyone, and I will have trouble meeting new people
It seems no matter what age we are, we are all concerned about not knowing people when we get to a new setting. It's something that we all face from time to time. Student clubs and activities can really help you find like-minded people. Class size is another point to consider. Small class sizes help to encourage getting to know classmates and instructors. At my college, we pride ourselves on creating a community environment for everyone. Even though we have over 10,000 students come through our doors annually, we generally are able to keep each of our classes at about 25 students.
I haven't been in school for a long time
One thing that I've noticed is that learning is a life-long process. You are never truly done learning. It doesn't matter how long it's been since you've been in a classroom; keeping an open mind and wanting to learn something new are keys to success for everyone. Instructors are available to answer questions and concerns for you, so use that to your advantage. The tools used to facilitate learning will change. We have gone from chalk boards to dry-erase boards and then to Smart Boards and Promethean Boards. While technologies will change, the process of learning and expanding your mind is always going to be there, no matter how long it's been since you've been in a classroom.
How will I balance school with other parts of my life?
I've heard people say that the key to happiness is balance. I think that everyone has their own idea of what it takes to make them feel "balanced." Keeping organized, focused and honest with your personal limits will help to keep your life happy and help you to feel balanced. Be sure to devote your energy to all of the important aspects of your life, and make the time you spend on each aspect focused, quality time, even if it is brief. This will help you to accomplish your goals in your academics, and in the other aspects of your life.
My class won't count for credit at a 4-year school
For those of you about to attend a 2-year school, I have 3 words for you: communication, communication, communication! This is going to be the most important thing when you want to transfer classes/credits to a 4-year school. The earlier you communicate your transfer intentions to an advisor, the more effective they will be in making sure that you are in classes that will transfer or in an associate degree program that will transfer to your 4-year school of choice (See: classes and degrees guaranteed to transfer). Please don't take it upon yourself to choose your classes and hope that it works out in the end. If you are ever unsure about a class that you are in, ask someone. Every class is beneficial; you will always learn something that you didn't know before, but advisors will help to make sure that specific class helping you accomplish your goals?
I hope that my responses to these questions and concerns have been helpful to you as a potential or current student. I also hope that this post has raised new questions that I can help you address. It's hard to find the answer if you don't ask the questions. The hardest part in getting started for many people is just walking through the door. If this is you or someone you know, take that step, ask those questions and enjoy the new opportunity in front of you. The gift of education is something that no one can ever take from you.