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Five tips for back-to-school success for community college students

By Lauren Ford, Biden Fellow for Higher Education

From preschool to college, August and September is “Back to School” season. Having worked in higher education for the past eight years, I’ve noted that each year students have the same nervousness, fears, and questions about entering college. In community colleges, especially, much of the uncertainty surrounding the start of the school year is due to the fact that many community college students are the first in their families to attend college.

Entering such a new world certainly has its challenges, which is why I’ve taken immense pride in helping students and their families with the transition as a community college campus recruiter. Throughout the spring and summer semesters, I help new students apply and transition into the community college that I work for. Below are some of the back-to-school tips that I’ve shared with new students and families:

1. Double-check your class schedules.
Sometimes classes change location or are even cancelled if not enough students are enrolled. So make sure that you double-check your schedules because there may have been changes after you originally registered for the classes.

2. Find the library or the tutoring center on day one!
If there’s a class on your schedule that you’ve previously had challenges with, try to go to tutoring or the library at the start of the semester rather than when you receive a poor grade on an assignment. This way, if you have questions on your homework, you’ll already be in the tutoring center in order to get help right away.

3. Take note of your professors’ office hours.
If you have questions or need to talk to them one-on-one you can go to their office hours to get extra support. Professors usually place their office hours on their syllabus so make sure you take note of their availability in case you need to schedule an appointment. Remember your professors are there to support you and to learn from you as well. If you have questions during class, don’t hesitate to raise your hand to get the answers you need to be successful.

4. Put important dates and assignments in a calendar or planner (and reminders!).
This way big assignments don’t creep up on you. Time management is a major key to success!

5. Finally, believe in yourself.
You can do this! Remember the reasons why you first applied to college in the first place and continue to stay motivated throughout the year.

Whether it’s your first semester, you’re returning after some time off, or graduation is on the horizon – congratulations to everyone starting a new academic year!

Lauren Ford is the College Recruiter at Skyline College, a doctoral student at San Francisco State University Graduate School of Education, and the Biden Foundation Higher Education Fellow.

This post is part of our “The Heart of the Issue” series, blogs authored by the Biden Fellows. Each Fellow has a close connection to one or more of the Biden Foundation’s policy pillars, and their updates will bring you straight to the heart of the issues that drive our work forward. Read the previous issue here.