Community college system is the real workhorse a stepping-stone for most to get into these better institutions. The value is immense as most devalue it, I say otherwise cause they do more in service to local communities productivity and increase mobile economic growth. If you desire higher education going the community college route then transfer to a four-year college will save you thousands in education. Yes, you can get financial aid but you have to apply in advance. I enrolled last economic recession due to manufacturing jobs decreasing to foreign outsourcing therefore, the “Work Re-adjustment Act” to fund my education in accounting. The two-year enrollment at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College took place between 2000 and 2002.
My apprehension was am I going to be the oldest student here? No, the ages believe it or not 16yrs to senior citizen and all walks of life. Kids with poor SAT’s, working professionals, business owners and unemployed learning a new profession like myself. The first step; speak with some one in the counselor’s office about applying and they will walk you through a lot of steps to get enrolled including: education transcripts, financial aid, course selection, accreditation options, pre-enrollment testing and applications. The one thing I learned the first few weeks a challenge as you get your schedule hammered out with last minute changes in rooms assignments, student ID, student computer ID log-in, course ID, and yes last minute course book changes. If you feel your struggling, go back to the counselor’s office they have high-risk student programs they understand the complications of work, family and even financial anxiety. The reason usually they have an orientation course do not skip it as you will gain insight to all services the community college offers in career planning, academic advising, financial assistance, and student services.
There is usually a student development division that offers seminars and workshops designed to provide survival skills for college life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even on the silly stuff as it can be daunting at times to balance school with personal life. The best feature is the rich resources of options like utilizing free student social events everything from culture, politics and safety. Then the resource of utilizing other students works like automotive mechanics as an option to get low cost car repair to early childhood development classes for your child care needs during attendance to classes. Not all community colleges offer these options but it never hurts to ask what is available to help you achieve your goals. On top of the credited classes there are non-credit classes that may be nothing more than workshops to boost things like typing skills, or update your software skills to achieve greater success in your academic pursuits. Don’t underestimate a fun non-credit offering like a travel day trip to a local place of interest or a health class in nutrition, first aid or exercise. Use these as motivators and rewards that’s what they are there for even if you have to shell out a hundred dollars or more out of pocket.
Be forewarned once you tried community college and succeed the first semester you look forward to returning. I recommend as your counselors will too, start small in your course load either part-time or the minimum credits as a full time student. There is also the option of distance learning, my favorite as you work independently with course studies at your own pace but must finish by a schedule time frame. If your are really a motivated person one can make great strides as I finished an economics course in under a month instead of the traditional 3 to 4 month semester. Summer courses I should warn you are shorter and class times longer don’t take on complex courses that demand a lot of study time as you will become very frustrated with kids out of school and naturally your mental outlook for summer vacation not studies. If you are still not certain if my suggestion is the best there are numerous self help books available on strategies to be a successful student. It is the first thing I did one good book to recommend for adults returning to school is “Going Back To School College Survival Strategies for Adult Students” by Frank J. Bruno, Ph.D. it helped me before I even tempted to enroll it can be a good pep talk.
Yes, each semester the first week is a pain finding your way around among throngs of students but after the class withdraw date without financial or academic penalty passes by the student population does thin out significantly. The objective is to survive past that and excel in your studies once that happens your well on your way. The sad thing is you notice about half the student body declines the great thing your one of the few left to succeed where others choose to quit! You will see this each semester roughly 25% to 60% quit cause of work, family needs and lack of money but what makes you more successful is the life skill to balance all these things.
Trust me future employers look at this on a resume as someone who can manage priorities extremely well and be a benefit to their business operations. It’s a skill very few posses especially considering you have added responsibilities of managing a career and family that the average bachelors degree holder did not have to contend with as they attended their studies without these obligations. If you choose to go with an associate degree then apply beyond with a senior institution to a baccalaureate program. You have one advantage over the average university or ivy-league student you invested fewer dollars with a slightly lower student loan then they did, so think of it this way in value for achieving that bachelors who is really smarter who has the greater personal skill to succeed? My bet would be on the person who earned their degree the hard way with more obstacles in the way as a better talent on steering business in difficult times!