Community College Survival Guide

It's 2019 and you just graduated. There's subjects you enjoy but you're a bit hesitant to place anything at the forefront of your studies. What is an "adult" anyway?

Community college is a bountiful resource for those feeling like they're always between haircuts. Utilize it right, cultivate your own habits, and you're on your way to being better prepared at a 4-year university or a tradeschool. If you become complacent like I tended to, you probably won't go as far as you could've. Not all yout effort should be directed in the classroom, either. For the first time how much time you allocate at class is entirely up to your own temperament. Make it count. First, tips when enrolling at a Community college:

1. Meet with an academic advisor.

Simple shit. There's usually a pipeline you must follow to transfer into a 4-year university on time. You can avoid taking classes that don't count for anything, or you can take classes you would love if your schedule permits. Community colleges are great because they're usually not understaffed. Just walk in or schedule an appointment.

2. Take classes you're interested in, but don't shy away from 101 classes.

If you're set on a major, even the seemingly boring classes will become an important framework to whatever your future plans are. I reluctantly took a research statistics class. My math skills are probably infant-level but the prof gave plenty of contextual information and made the class applicable beyond just staring at numbers. The human sexuality class I took was absolutely fantastic. Professor had a background in clinical psychology and she would throw in anecdotes every so often.

3. Take advantage of financial aid.

I attended CC for almost 3 years. I pirated my books at libgen.io and took public transport. With the generous help of grants, I've managed to get my associates' and transfer for less than $750. A ridiculously inexpensive option relative to the ~$60K for 2 years of University.

4. Approach and talk to Professors

You no doubt will have an ambiguous conception of what working with your major is like. Academia, business, shit's complicated. No more excuses now, your Professors are a beacon of first-hand information. They're usually excited to talk with curious students so take them up on that. Ask what they researched, what they're passionate about. You'll likely get a sincere reply and some useful advice. They also personally grade assignments which is insane at a University. Put your inertia into it and see the kind of feedback you get.

5. Take summer classes

If you're commuting from home, there's no good reason not to take summer classes, especially towards those boring pre-req courses. At a 4-year Uni you need to pay extra tuition as well as renew your rent. That shit gets expensive, quick. It's a great way to shorten your time at Community College if that's your objective.

6. Your GPA matters.

For most transfer programs, they don't even look at your extracurriculars. GPA and essay is the focus. Don't slack off and procrastinate. Form good habits for a good GPA right now, and better grades in the future.

Basic, simple shit. All of them are equally as important to forming good habits and having a smooth transfer into the university of your choice. I'm no dad figure but I sincerely hope you take this advice to heart.

Created 1/16/19

Managing your personal life

And now for the part that you're really here for:

Community college, especially if on a semester schedule, and especially if the on-campus activities are non-existent, affords you lots of time. I was unable to manage that time. It has been an ongoing struggle to balance how I perceive my own life progress, and my time at Community College exasterbated that neurosis.

Cut off from my friends and isolated in suburbia, I really struggled through those 3 years. Progress seemed incredibly distant, my interests wholly irrelevant, I felt that my agency was gone. Getting a job exasterbated those issues, the commute eating away at my previously bountful time. Even after graduating, I couldn't shake the sensation that Community College had transmitted to me. It had done leaps for my "career," but life isn't about bottom lines. Here's some retrospective tips on how to stay sane.

1. Don't neglect your hobbies.

Scrolling through reddit or Youtube is the go-to for low investment stimulation. The mental barrier to transition to something you enjoy may be a bit much, but it will eventually snowball. Develop your interests and avoid those transient, meaningless interactions. Maybe even branch out into new hobbies.

2. Take advantage of downtime

Commuting fucking sucks. Instead of closing your eyes for some low-quality rest, have something to do. Reading a book, reading manga on your phone, listening to a podcast, anything. It'll boost your mood at the start of your day instead of being a husk of a man at class. Conversely, if your college is on the semester schedule and you have lots of time, this advice is especially directed towards you. Don't waste precious time. It may not seem finite, but once you transfer or get a job, you'll miss that freedom and wish you spent it more productively.

3. Normalize your sleep schedule

I would often stay up late because my day was filled with school, work, and homework. Missing 2 or 3 hours of sleep seemed cheap compared to being able to spend time with my hobbies. But fuck man you always regret it the day after. Waking up after dark really wrecks your mood, it's bad for your health,, and bad for your grades. Resist the urge.

3. Don't neglect your mental health.

Identify maladaptive behaviors and patterns in your day-to-day life. Jacking off a lot? Not eating until lunchtime? Stress-eating? Sleeping erratically? Acting reclusively? The first step to fixing your issues is to recognize them.

4. Recognize signs of impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.

In my state you only need a high school diploma or equivalent in order to tend Community College. It's an accessible, inexpensive resource for becoming a well-rounded person but admission doesn't carry prestige. I crashed and burned in High School and getting out of that fatalistic mindset has taken a ridiculous amount of time. Community College gave me a viable route to self-improvement but reminders of my failures lingered. Even after successfully transferring to a University I doubt my abilities relative to other people, especially those that haven't transferred. It's a harmful mindset that can sabotage your grades and impact your self-esteem.

I knew about impostor syndrome but I never thought it applied to me. I thought I was just coasting along in my education, taking the path of least resistance. I attributed my redemption story to the great framework that was available to me. If I connected the dots earlier, who knows what friends I could've made and opportunities I could've taken advantage of.

You can also afford to be flexible at community college. If you live at home, there's no downsides to taking summer classes. Maybe take advantage of that to have a semester off. Maybe take less courses and work to start saving some money. Community college grants you options, identify how far you can push things, and take advantage of that.

Created: 1/20/2019

Last Edited: 3/21/2019

Community College survival guide