5 Community College Tips from a Successful Student

By Alex Hollis (@wvedutech)

This past weekend, I was a victim of the great polar vortex travel fiasco of 2014.

The plan was simple. I was going to travel with my parents to meet my sister in New York. We would then fly together to New Orleans for a brief family gathering.

We woke up Friday morning and headed to Logan airport in Boston to embark on our trip. 24 hours later, we had flown to New York (but never landed) twice, my sister was in New Orleans by herself, and our luggage was MIA.

But I am not writing this post as a vehicle to vent any complaints. I am writing this because during the fiasco we met a highly successful young gentleman named Armand and I think his story is worth telling.

Armand grew up in a hard-working and loving family, but they had financial troubles and certainly could not afford to send Armand to four years of private college.

Armand’s grades were pretty good, but not good enough to score a substantial scholarship. So Armand decided he would try community college for two years and then try to transfer. This way, he figured, he’d save maybe $80k or so.

Armand enrolled in his local community college and did extremely well, getting his associate’s degree in less than 2 years.

He then applied to a prestigious private college and actually earned a scholarship based on the merits of his community college performance.

Armand is now a mid-level manager in a Fortune 500 company and pulls in more than $80k annually. So, Armand got through community college, performed well, was able to get his bachelor’ sat a discount, and now makes more than he would save by attending community college for two years over private college.

He feels as though he made the right decision.

I asked him, how did you do it? How’d you graduate early? How’d you turn your academic career around where many people end up having an academic downfall (first year college students typically experience a significant decrease from the GPA they achieved in high school).

Armand laid out 5 things that, he believes, would help any community college student excel. Here they are in chronological order:

1) Crush the ACCUPLACER. “I saved thousands of dollars and about a half year of my life by doing well on this one, stupid test. I hated studying for it, but it paid off as I placed out of all the remediation and intro classes, which saved me time, money, and headaches. It’s pitched as a ‘placement test that you can’t fail’. Don’t approach it like that. Acing it helps. Doing poorly hurts.

2) See if your community college offers CLEP tests and take them. “My friend told me, ‘if I could do one thing over, I would CLEP out of classes’. I had no idea what he meant, but after researching I realized I could place out and get college credit for calculus, business, US History, Spanish. I refreshed my knowledge of all those subjects I learned in high school using a study guide and took the tests. They were easier than AP and gave me college credit. I ended up saving more money and time here”.

3) Flip your study habits around. “Flip your learning habits by familiarizing yourself about what’s on the syllabus for tomorrow’s class. Use that class as an opportunity to ask questions and solidify what you taught yourself the night before. This way, you come out fully grasping the content and having thorough notes rather than coming out of class all foggy and rushing to cram all those lessons in before finals”.

4) Schedule your time wisely. “I worked while attending community college and needed to make sure I scheduled study time every day. I made sure I studied during breaks in the workday, on the bus to and from work, and on the weekends. If I put it off until night, I was too exhausted to get anything out of studying. My brain wouldn’t work.”

5) Know your goals. “I knew I wanted to attend private school after my associate’s degree so I treated my time as such. I knew what classes my target schools wanted me to take, what credits would transfer, and I planned my class schedule around it.”

I hope these tips help those out there following the same path as Armand. I also hope that you are all as successful as he has become.

Note: we are building CLEP prep as we speak. Email alex@testsoup.com if you want to be notified when they launch and receive a 50% discount on launch day.

Also let us know what CLEP tests are most important to you? Spanish, calculus, literature…

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