If you are a high school student getting ready to graduate and want to take classes this summer at a community college; or you are a returning student that has been working in the corporate world for the last 5 or 10 years and have decided for a career change; getting your college career started can feel like a daunting and overwhelming experience. But the truth is, there are people and resources in place to help you through this transition. It’s going to take a little research, but once you find these people to help you, the transition to a college career is simple and even enjoyable.
Starting Your College Career
Every community college and university will have a matriculation process that you will have to complete. Matriculation is a fancy way of saying you need to complete a few steps in order to register into classes. California Community Colleges offers a matriculation process that consists of applying to the college, taking an assessment, going to orientation, meeting with a counselor and registering for classes. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Community College Matriculation (start to your college career)
Applying to the College– Before you can see a counselor or do anything else, you will need to apply to the college you are intending to go to in order to be in the system, get a student ID#, and have access to resources on campus. Many people go to the college in person without applying to speak to a counselor, but are referred to the college application. You can usually fill out the college application online as it is processed a lot faster.
College Assessment Tests– If this is your first time in college, you will be asked to take a Math assessment and an English assessment. These assessments are given to find out what level of English and what level of Math to place you in. Many students place below the transfer level English and transfer level Math so they are required to take the classes that will prepare you to do well in those transferable classes. It is strongly encouraged to take Math and English early in your college career so that you can get the general education out of the way early.
New Student Orientation– If you have not attended a previous college or you are planning to transfer to a university, then you will be asked to do a New Student Orientation where you will be briefed on the college, the policies and procedures, resources on campus and a walk through of your next steps. Some colleges offer this online, but an in-person college orientation should be what you do to get a good feel for the school.
College Counselor Meeting– After applying, taking your assessment tests and going through the college orientation, you will then be able to meet with a college counselor to discuss a student educational plan and your goals for school. This is where you will start your college career plan and map out what you will be taking each semester. Seeing a counselor early is a must to ensure college success. If you try to pick the classes you want based on what you like, you will be in for a big surprised. Speak to a trained adviser that can help you with your academic plan to make sure you are on the right course.
Class Registration– After you get your class schedule from your counseling appointment, you will now be able to register for classes. Each student has a specific registration period. If you are new to the school, you will have a later registration time than a returning student. But after a semester or two, you’ll start getting that earlier registration time.
College Career Planning: “See your college counselor early and get the classes you need!”