Your Most Valuable College Experiences

 After your classes, take the time to get involved in an extra curricular activity. Enrolling at a college makes you part of a unique community where opportunity abounds. Classes should be your #1 priority, but the majority of my most valuable experiences as a community college student didn’t happen in the classroom, and yours won’t either.

You can explore the clubs and student groups that exist at your college by going to club fairs that normally take place during the first weeks of the school term, or by obtaining a list of active organizations from your student services office.

Extra curricular activities like clubs, sports, and other organizations will connect you to other people, new experiences, and give you the opportunity to apply your knowledge. You will also learn skills that are not taught in most classrooms like social skills and leadership. By getting involved in student government I learned about leadership, teamwork, and advocacy. I flew to conferences in Sacramento and Los Angeles and made friends and connections that I still keep in touch with. Looking back now, those are the experiences that most contributed to who I am today.

Also, take time to get to know people. It is increasingly difficult in this digital age, but make an effort. It can be something as simple as saying “hello” to the people around you, or forming study groups with your classmates. These are the connections that will help you reach your goals and find your career path.




Posted in Uncategorized

7 Tips for Being a Successful Student

1. Be Curious

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The amount we know about our world is increasing exponentially, but it seems like the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know. So as long as you are alive, learn as much as you can.  Question everything, seek knowledge, and explore your world.

I was not a great student until I stopped caring about grades and started caring about learning. Then, interestingly, I started getting A’s. Be curious! Wonder about the things they tell you in class. Think about what that means about the world you live in, and your own life. Ask questions. Knowledge doesn’t come out of books, it is written down in them, so read your textbooks, learn what they have to teach you, and then start creating your own knowledge.

2. Fight for the Front Row

Think of everything you are giving up to be a student: your job, family, time, money, etc. You are sacrificing to be able to walk through the door of the classroom, so don’t waste a moment of the time you have there!

  •  Sit in the front of the class.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand. (Don’t worry about looking dumb; it is far more foolish to try to hide ignorance than to work to overcome it.)
  • Go to your professor’s office hours.
  • Do the extra credit assignments.

This is your chance. Carpe diem! (Seize the day)

3. Know Thyself

If you are having a hard time understanding material in a class, don’t chalk it up to being dumb. It is more likely that the way the information is being presented isn’t the way you learn best. You may best remember and understand material when it is spoken to or written down for you, drawn for you, demonstrated to you, when you apply it to doing something, when its in a song, through numbers, or in some other way. These are all part of intelligence types (article on this to come). Find out what your learning style is, and use that knowledge to help yourself understand and remember concepts from class. For a free assessment you can visit literacyworks.orgKnow what your work style is. Are you most alert at night or in the morning? Do you focus best when you have complete quiet and solitude, like a library, or do you need some background noise, like in a coffee shop? Set aside time to study when you are most alert and go to a place that will help you focus.

Know what kind of teacher you prefer. Do you learn best from someone who will challenge you and hold your nose to the grindstone, or someone who is more kind and personable? A great teacher is the single most influential factor in how much you will learn, so know what teaching style works for you and find great teachers. Ask students about the professors they have taken, and you can also read reviews at websites like

4. Take Care of You

According to the National Sleep Foundation everyone needs a different amount of sleep, but most adults need between seven and eight hours every night. You also need healthy food and exercise to be at your best. Your body is the only thing you will have for your entire life, so take care of it! Sleep well, eat well, exercise, and thank me when you’re 80.

5. Stay Organized

When you get your syllabus on the first day of class with a list of the assignments, put every assignment into your calendar on your smart phone (or your planner, if you’re old fashioned). If you need to, set alarms for a few days or a week before the assignment is due, so that you never miss an assignment because you forgot about it.

Keep everything until final grades are in. You don’t want to lose credit for an assignment because your teacher lost it or wrote down the grade incorrectly (I’ve seen it happen).

Be prepared for class. Don’t be that person asking around for a pen. They always forget to give it back, anyway.

6. Set Aside Enough Time

Being a student means more than just going to class. Professors and counselors will tell you to plan on spending three hours outside of class for every hour in class. I think that is an overestimation for most classes, but do plan on spending at least as much studying outside of class as you do in the classroom. Set aside that time in your schedule and make it a priority.

7. Join The Olympus Project

We are here to help you. Read our articles, and if you have questions, ask us either by commenting or sending us a message. You can also apply to our (free) mentorship program and be matched to a successful graduate of the California Community College system to help you succeed. It’s simple, we believe in you!

This article was created for you by Kate.

Posted in Uncategorized

Choosing a University

Transferring to a four-year university can be one of the most stressful and challenging times in your college career. Next to deciding on your major, choosing which campus to attend is the biggest decision you will make as a student. Here are a set of questions to ask yourself that will help you pick the best university for you.

Academics: Does the university offer the major I am interested in and how good of a department is it?

  • First, make sure to choose a university that offers the major you are pursuing. Second, check that the school has a good department for your field of study.

Financial wise: How much will it cost?

  • Private institutions are normally more expensive than public schools. However, they tend to offer better financial assistance to students, do to the smaller number of students at the private college.
  • Public institutions are in part supported by state funds, like tax payers money. The advantage is that its tuition is lower (for in- state residents).
  • Make sure that the campus offers you sufficient financial assistance such as university/state grants, loans, scholarships, work-study, and GI Bills (if applicable).
  • Not all institutions offer financial assistance during summer. Those that do offer, require the student to file a summer application form for financial purposes and to keep track of how many students plan to attend. Be sure to check the deadlines and always submit applications on time this will help you receive all the necessary financial aid available.

Cost of Living: What is the student housing like?

  • Some universities offer family housing which is reserved for students who are single-parents, married students and/or domestic partners. Spouse, partners and children are the only individuals allowed to live at the University apartments.
  • If you plan to live outside of campus and commute, check to see how much will it cost you to live close to or far from school. If you plan to drive to campus, find out how much money will go towards gas and parking. Or if you plan on using public transportation, find out what buses, trains, or subways take you to school.

Campus: What do I think about the campus?

  • If possible, visit the campus before you commit to it. Visiting will help you see what aspects of the university you like or dislike. See what the faculty and staff are like and what support services are offered to undergrad students.
  • Look at the geography: is it close to or far from home?
  • Do you like the weather?
  • Is it an area you would be happy in for two plus years?
  • If interested in joining a student organization, check to see what clubs are offered that you might be interested in. And if you are a parent, find out if the university offers child services such as child care, which can sometimes be free or at a low cost. Best of all, visit and take a free campus tour, this will allow you to see and get a feel for what the university offers.

Choosing a campus to transfer too can be difficult, but these questions can help you decide what university is best for you. Look at how the department is ranked. Think about how much it will cost, living on or off campus and/or close to or far from home. And most important, visit the campus and school departmental websites.

This article was created for you by Perla.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Transfering, Year 2

How to Get Classes

It should be easy to get the classes you need, but it isn’t. Community colleges are over-enrolled and under-funded, and that means there is competition for classes. By being prepared to enroll, working your way off the waitlist, and taking classes at multiple colleges, you can get the courses you need.

Have a Plan and Be Ready

The first thing to do to enroll in the classes you need, is be ready as soon as enrollment opens. Often enrollment opens in phases, with priority being given to some groups*. Know when your enrollment time opens. Before then, look at the classes being offered and choose the ones that will meet your requirements. Have your first choices, and also have backups in case those fill up before you get in.

Have all your paperwork in order. Different colleges require different things before enrollment. Find out what those are at your college so that they won’t slow you down when you need to get into classes. For more information on what to do before you enroll, read XXXXXX

At most colleges you can enroll online or in person. Choose whichever will be the fastest for you.

The Waitlist

If you are on the waitlist, first you need to be realistic about your chances of getting into the class. My rule of thumb is that one in ten students will drop (eg. in a class of 50, five will drop, so if you’re number five or less on the waitlist you have a good chance of getting in), but it can vary.

Even though you are not enrolled, go to class. Talk to the professor as soon as you can and make your case. To improve your odds of getting in, you can show them a sample of your work or offer to do additional work to earn your spot. Be a student that the professor wants to teach.

My statistics professor once told my class a story about, while he was a student, being bribed to drop a class so that another student could take his place. I’ve never tried this (and don’t go threaten anyone!) but maybe if you are in your last semester or two, someone who has just enrolled and has plenty of time might be willing to give you their spot – maybe. Just be prepared when enrollment opens, and it won’t come to that.

Other Colleges

If your college doesn’t offer the classes you need, or if you can’t get into them, you can take classes at other community colleges. If another community college is near to you, you can enroll in in-person classes. If not, you can take online classes. Collectively, California community colleges offer hundreds of courses online. My rural college didn’t have many of the specific courses I needed for my English major, but Allan Hancock College, at the other end of the state, did. I took classes at six different colleges to fulfill the prereqs for the UCLA English major.

To do this, you can use ASSIST to find colleges that offer the courses you need, and then you can look to see if the classes are available online. It involves figuring out and navigating multiple college systems and sending lots of transcripts, but it can be done. The website Apply can help you apply to multiple colleges.

*Which groups are given priority varies from college to college, but priority enrollment is commonly available to veterans, honors students, disadvantaged students, students in their final semester/quarter, etc. You can learn more by asking your college’s student services department.

This article was created for you by Kate.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Classes, Year 1


IGETC, another acronym! This one stands for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum. In other words, the IGETC is an agreement between UC’s and CSU’s, and California Community Colleges (CC’s) that transfer students who have completed IGETC will have met general education requirements for UC’s and CSU’s and can go straight into coursework for their major. Completion of IGETC isn’t a requirement for transferring, but it is the most common way to meet GE requirements for students transferring from CC’s.

To earn IGETC certification you need to complete 37 semester units (or 49 quarter units) with a grade of C or better in all your classes. The IGETC breaks down into six categories: English, math, arts and humanities, sociological and behavioral sciences, physical and biological sciences, and foreign language. You need to take a number of classes in each of these areas (see below for complete list). Depending on your CC, different classes will be available to meet these requirements. Here is a sample guide to what classes you need for each area, taken from Los Angeles City College’s web page: LA City College IGETC . Your college probably has something similar.

Depending on your major, you will need to complete additional preparatory classes in order to begin taking upper division classes when you transfer. These classes can be difficult to get, as not all CC’s offer the classes required for all majors. You can use ASSIST [link to assist!] to find out what coursework is required for your major and what CC’s offer equivalent classes. I’m sorry ASSIST is so difficult to use. We’re working on building a better app (If you have app building skills and would like to help, contact us!).

IGETC may not be the best choice for majors with allot of lower division requirements (like engineering or biological, physical, or natural sciences). If you have questions, I recommend contacting the admissions office of the college you want to transfer to.

Do you have more questions? Comment on this post or contact us!

IGETC Requirements

Area 1 – English Communication

Three courses required, one in English composition, one in critical thinking-English composition, and one in oral communication (at least 9 semester units)

  • 1A – English Composition
  • 1B – Critical Thinking – English Composition
  • 1C – Oral Communication (required by CSU only)

The requirements 8A and 8B identify courses which, when taken in sequence, satisfy the 1B requirement.

  • 8A – Critical Thinking
  • 8B – English Composition

Area 2 – Mathematical Concepts and Quantitative Reasoning

One course (at least 3 semester units)

  • 2A – Math

Area 3 – Arts and Humanities

At least three courses, with at lest one from the arts and one from the humanities (at least 9 semester units)

  • 3A – Arts
  • 3B – Humanities

Area 4 – Social and Behavior Sciences

At least three courses from at least two disciplines (at least 9 semester units)

  • 4A – Anthropology and Archaeology
  • 4B – Economics
  • 4C – Ethnic Studies
  • 4D – Gender Studies
  • 4E – Geography
  • 4F – History
  • 4G – Interdisciplinary, Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • 4H – Political Science, Government & Legal Institutions
  • 4I – Psychology
  • 4J – Sociology & Criminology

Area 5 – Physical and Biological Sciences

Two courses, one physical science and one biological science; at least one must include a laboratory (at least 7 semester units) Courses that include a lab component are underlined on ASSIST IGETC reports.

  • 5A – Physical Science

This article was created for you by Kate.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Transfering

What is Transferring?

To earn a four-year degree you can go straight into a four-year institution, or you can attend two different schools for two years each. Transferring is the process of changing from one school, like a California Community College (CC) to a four-year institution, like a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU). One third of UC graduates are transfer students, and statistics show they do just as well as non-transfers. 50,000 students transfer annually from CC’s to CSU’s at 20,000 to UC’s. Both CSU’s and UC’s give priority to CC applicants, though you can also transfer from CC’s to other universities.


First, spending two of your four years of school at a CC is less expensive than spending all four at a university. Second, if you have other considerations, like work or a family, it is easier to work your education around those commitments at a CC than a university. Third, admission to UC’s and CSU’s is less competitive for transfer students than freshmen, so if you were still figuring out the world in high school and didn’t get that 4.0 don’t count yourself out just yet!


Requirements vary based on the institution you want to transfer to. Both UC’s and CSU’s require that you fulfill  the IGETC requirements (article on that coming soon), but the requirements for each vary slightly.

UC’s and CSU’s both offer transfer guarantees for students at CC’s. Seven UC’s (Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz) offer what is called the TAG program (Transfer Admission Guarantee) which you fill out going into your second year. Its an agreement that if you take certain classes and earn a certain GPA you have guaranteed admission into one of the UC’s. For more information on TAG, visit the UC’s website. CSU’s offer similar pathways, but they are based on your geographic proximity to the CSU, which I think is convoluted. For more information check out the transfer counselor website.

If you have specific questions, comment below and we’ll answer them!

This article was created for you by Kate.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Transfering

Choosing a Path

California’s Community Colleges offer 135 different degree and certificate programs for students to choose from. The most important thing in making your choice is to pick something you love and go after it. Life is too short to spend it doing something that makes you miserable.

Don’t worry about making exactly the right choice; you can always change your mind later. But go after something! It is far easier to change direction once you are in motion than to start moving after sitting still for a long time. If you don’t know exactly what you want to study, try narrowing it down. Associates or Certificate? Trade program or transfer? Transfer to a state college, a university, or another institution?

When I enrolled at my CC I didn’t know what major I wanted, but I did know I wanted to transfer to a UC. Going into my final year of community college I chose to be an English major. I recommend having a broad goal when you enroll, like an associates degree or transfer preparation. By the end of your first year you should narrow it down to something specific. That will give you a year to get the classes you need.

This article was created for you by Kate.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Year 1

Enter your email address to follow The Olympus Project and receive notifications of new content by email.