1. Choose Your Classes Wisely. Enrolling in classes can be a daunting task, but the key is to choose courses related to your major. The academic catalog has detailed information about courses, departmental requirements, and course lists. My major was biology so I used the course catalog to register for my science-related classes. Having a plan for course registration is important to ensure you meet all requirements.
2. Join Campus Clubs and Organizations. Community colleges have social organizations that have awesome benefits. Phi Theta Kappa, Coca Cola Leaders of Promise, and Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) are clubs specific to 2-year colleges. Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is the international honor society for 2-year colleges. Joining PTK was the highlight of my community college experience. One of my most memorable moments as a PTK member was attending conferences in Washington DC and Kansas City, Kansas. My opportunity to serve as student ambassador helped me evolve as a scholar and leader.
3. Meet with Professors. Typically, community colleges have smaller class sizes as compared to larger 4-year universities. For example, my Ichthyology class had 330 students. Smaller class sizes allow you to know your classmates and, more importantly, your professors. Often, professors have professional affiliations outside of the classroom. For example, my chemistry professor was the director of the Soil and Water Conservation District. Meeting and knowing my professor led to an internship at this district. Building a professional network that includes instructors is imperative and can lead to a glowing letter of recommendation.
4. Manage your Money. Affordability is one of the main reasons students attend junior college. For example, most students are able to work and attend college. Having a savings plan is crucial, especially if you plan to transfer to a 4-year college or university.
5. Make Excellent Grades. Most colleges and universities use Blackboard, an online portal where you can keep track of grades. Excellent grades give you a competitive edge for scholarships, increase your chances at getting accepted to an honors college at a 4-year university, and can potentially help you land a job interview.
Community college is an excellent option and should not be dismissed. Community college offers opportunities to take challenging courses, build professional affiliations, and participate in fun social activities.
Tysheka Finney is a passionate researcher and intellectual. She started her collegiate experience at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she was a triple major in Biology/Pre-Medicine, Bioinformatics, and Life Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. At VCU, Tysheka was a Bioinformatics intern and a research assistant working on the global viral metagenome. She has experienced many failures and setbacks and recently received an Associates of Biology with highest honors from Eastern Shore Community College. She plans to return to VCU in the fall to complete her matriculation and apply to VCU Medical School. Tysheka is excited about joining Scientista as a blogger to explore the intersectionality of rural communities, race, and science. Her absolute passion is all things STEM, alongside stamp collecting, exploring other cultures, writing short stories, reading literature (especially Faulkner), and drinking tea.